Lansing rescinds mask order

John Richmeier
The Leavenworth Times

A week earlier, a majority of the Lansing City Council voted to extend the city’s mask order through the month of April. But council members voted Thursday to repeal the mask order.

Council members were expected to take some form of action Thursday related to face coverings because of a new state law that allowed statewide mask orders issued by the governor to expire at the end of March.

Gov. Laura Kelly issued a replacement mask order Thursday. But her new order was revoked by a Legislative Coordinating Council.

Lansing City Council members were presented with an ordinance Thursday that complied with the new state law. The ordinance, if approved, would have once again extended the city’s mask order through April 30.

Mayor Tony McNeill said the new ordinance would have relied on the city’s home rule authority rather than a statewide order issued by the governor.

Council member Gene Kirby said he previously supported having a mask mandate in Lansing while allowing time for people to be vaccinated for COVID-19.

“Initially they were in short supply and as time has gone on, they have been getting more and more out,” he said of vaccines.

Kirby also expressed concern about the city being sued if council members approved an extension of the mask order.

City Attorney Gregory Robinson said without a statewide order from the governor, municipalities with mask orders potentially could be opening themselves to legal challenges. Robinson said people could start challenging whether cities and counties have made the necessary findings to show that mask orders are still needed.

Council member Gregg Buehler said he originally supported the implementation of a mask order in Lansing. But he has changed his view.

Buehler said he believes the responsibility of deciding whether to wear masks should be returned to Lansing residents.

Council member Jesse Garvey, who has opposed the city’s mask order in the past, said he is “tired of losing our freedoms in this country.”

“I just don’t want to be told to wear a mask,” he said.

Council member Ron Dixon asked whether Lansing business owners support or oppose the mask order.

City Administrator Tim Vandall said he has heard from a few business owners who like the mask order. Vandall said he also has heard from a few who are vehemently opposed to it.

Council members ended up voting to deny the proposed ordinance. They then approved another ordinance in order to repeal the extension of the mask order that was voted on last week.

Even though the mask order has been rescinded, business owners can still require people to wear masks in their establishments.

According to Vandall, masks will still be required in Lansing City Hall.

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