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Roeland Park Becomes Second City In Johnson County To Require Masks Indoors

As of Aug. 24, 2021, Roeland Park and Prairie Village are currently the only two Johnson County cities with a citywide mask mandate in place.
Shawnee Mission Post
As of Aug. 24, 2021, Roeland Park and Prairie Village are currently the only two Johnson County cities with a citywide mask mandate in place.

The Roeland Park City Council on Monday unanimously approved an order requiring mask be worn inside all indoor public spaces citywide. The order takes effect Tuesday, Aug. 24, and will remain in effect through at least mid-October.

Roeland Park is now the second Johnson County city with a citywide mask mandate, following Prairie Village, which instituted a similar measure that took effect Tuesday.

The Roeland Park City Council unanimously approved a mask resolution at its Monday night meeting, effective Tuesday, Aug. 24, and currently set to expire Oct. 19.

The order requires masks for all people indoors in public places or in crowded outdoor public places, with some exceptions.

Roeland Park started complying last summer with Gov. Laura Kelly’s mask mandate, which took effect July 3, 2020.

The city changed its mask mandate in April to “strongly recommend” masks, in line with Johnson County’s then-new guidance, Assistant City Administrator Erin Winn said in an email Tuesday morning to the Shawnee Mission Post.

Roeland Park's new order

The council on Monday chose to issue a new resolution rather than an ordinance because it can implement a resolution immediately and it is temporary, which makes it “far more practical and expedient” than an ordinance, City Attorney Steve Bauer said at the meeting.

An ordinance permanently changes city law and becomes effective only after publication.

The resolution imposes no monetary fine for violators. The city will emphasize education over enforcement, the resolution states.

But if a property owner sees someone not wearing a mask and refusing to wear one or leave the premises, the owner may call the Roeland Park Police Department, which is authorized to remove the person from the premises.

The city can then charge the person with trespassing, an existing violation of city code, Bauer said.

The resolution also requires masks in public transportation.

It recommends — but does not require — that people wear masks in indoor private settings and crowded outdoor private settings where close contact with people who might not be fully vaccinated is possible.

People exempted from the mask resolution are as follows:

  • Children younger than age 4
  • People with health conditions that prohibit wearing face mask
  • People who struggle to breathe or are unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove a mask without help
  • People seated at a restaurant or other business providing food or drink while eating or drinking
  • People consuming food or drink for religious reasons
  • People participating in religious or other services involving the nose or face that require temporary mask removal
  • Athletes playing organized sports while maintaining a 6-foot distance from others or those engaged in athletics or other activities inside school buildings
  • Deaf or hard-of-hearing people when communication requires the ability to see the mouth
  • People alone in a separate room, office or other indoors space
  • People at any gathering with confirmation that attendees are fully vaccinated
  • People engaged in any lawful activity when law prohibits wearing a face covering

“Wearing a mask is a minimally restrictive ask,” Mayor Mike Kelly said, “and we’re asking our community to meet us to help keep our kids, keep our residents, keep those who live, work and play in Roeland Park safe.”

Kelly later tweeted the text of the resolution.

Council discussion

Ward 2 Councilmember Jennifer Hill, who is a teacher, works in a school building with 1,600 people, she said.

She supports emphasizing education rather than direct enforcement of the resolution.

“You know, we’re holding students responsible for a Class 3 charge if they are caught without wearing (masks),” Hill said. “So, I think as adults we need to lead by example.”

Hill said she was “proud of our community, in that wherever I go when I’m shopping, when I’m out, I see people masked even when though they don’t have to be.”

Ward 4 Councilmember Jim Kelly countered by saying he had seen about half of people in stores wearing masks.

“I like the Prairie Village ordinance (which imposes a maximum fine of $25 for a mask infraction) because I think that’s what it’s going to take,” he said.

Vaccinations or COVID testing for city employees

The council also unanimously approved temporarily requiring city employees, other than seasonal employees, to either provide proof of vaccination or to present a weekly negative result from a COVID test before starting work, including those unable to get vaccinated.

“At some point, you have to take responsibility for your health,” City Administrator Keith Moody said.

Ward 1 Councilmember Jan Faidley said that her 47-year-old cousin who lived in Texas and had chosen not to get vaccinated, died Monday of COVID-19.

She encouraged people to get vaccinated.

“He was only 47 years old,” she said of her cousin. “Basically healthy. For whatever reason, he had chosen not to get vaccinated. I understand that there may be valid reasons not to do that. However, I can tell you now that his family is devastated, and I would hope that no one would have to go through that.”

This story was originally published in the Shawnee Mission Post.

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