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Police plan to educate citizens about mask order

John Richmeier
jrichmeier@leavenworthtimes.com

Lansing police officers will try to educate people about the city’s new mask order before writing tickets.

“If things go well, we won’t have to write even one of these citations,” said Lt. Michael Dickason of the Lansing Police Department.

Dickason said educating the public about the mask requirement is the least officers can do when this type of order is enacted.

Members of the Lansing City Council approved the mask ordinance Tuesday during a special meeting. The ordinance went into effect Friday.

The ordinance requires people to wear masks or other face coverings over their mouths and noses when inside any indoor public space.

The ordinance also requires people to wear masks while in outdoor public spaces if they cannot maintain social distancing of at least six feet.

The ordinance also has mask requirements for businesses. Business owners and managers must require employees to wear masks when working in areas that are visited by customers. Employees also must wear masks when working in areas where food is prepared or packaged for sale or distribution. Employees also must wear masks when working or walking through common areas such has hallways. Employees also must wear masks when in rooms where people cannot maintain social distancing of at least six feet.

Business owners also must require customers to wear masks when inside of businesses.

Business owners or managers can be cited for intentionally and knowingly not complying with the ordinance.

For a first violation of the ordinance, a person can be charged a $5 fine and court costs of $20. For a second violation, a person can be charged a $10 fine and court costs of $30. For any subsequent violation, a person can be charged a $20 fine and $40 in court costs.

The ordinance includes a number of exemptions. Children who are 5 years old or younger are not required to wear masks. The ordinance also provides an exemption for people with medical or mental health conditions that prevent them from wearing masks.

In cases in which people claim to have medical or mental health exemptions, Dickason said police officers likely will take people’s word. But he suggested there may be situations in which officers have reason to question the credibility of people’s claims. He said citations could be written in these cases, allowing the matters to be resolved in court.

Dickason said he does not know if and how the ordinance will be enforced in churches. He said this is an issue that needs to be researched.

The ordinance is set to expire Jan. 31 but it can be extended by the Lansing City Council.

A copy of the ordinance can be found on the city’s website, www.lansing.ks.us

The ordinance applies only to the city of Lansing, but a similar order is in place for the city of Leavenworth.

County commissioners have opted out of a governor’s order that would require masks be worn throughout Leavenworth County.

Twitter: @LVTNewsJohnR