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Local authorities have conflicting face mask regulations

If you’re confused about requirements to wear a face mask don’t feel alone. Across the sprawling Kansas City Metro, which encompasses 14 counties, there are almost as many different regulations. The problem gets even trickier when traveling from the Missouri side of the metro to the Kansas side.

Add to that conflicting advice from Dr. Anthony Fauci, the CDC and the WHO, which at different times have said both that masks were necessary and also not effective, and frustration builds.

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson believes that the decision should be made at the local level. He explained his position at a news conference this week.

In Kansas, Gov. Laura Kelly issued a statewide guideline with local counties also voting to follow depending on the level of their infection rates. Kansas, however even requires a mask outside – overkill to many who say the dangers of wearing one in 100 degree temps is greater than the risk of coronavirus.

“I do not plan to put an order in from the governor’s office,” Parson said. “Again, for people that live in those places that want to live under those guidelines, that’s their elected leaders’ decision.

“Every day in this press briefing, we’ve told you if you cannot keep to six feet and social distancing, wear a mask. If you feel comfortable, wear a mask. Everybody knows the situation out there, they know the risk categories right now. Everybody has to keep that in mind and move forward, but I don’t plan on mandating masks.”

These are the latest policies implemented by local governments:

Clay County. The country amended its public health emergency order to allow businesses to begin operating at full capacity again as long as employees and visitors wear masks while in close proximity to other individuals. This includes stores and public transit.

Platte County. A mask requirement will take effect at 12:01 a.m. on Thursday, July 16. Businesses will be asked to post a sign on their doors with the following wording: “Masks must be continuously worn to enter and remain at these premises by order of the Platte County Health Department.” A list of exceptions to the mandatory masking will be outlined in the order language to include medical conditions, age of children and exception while eating and drinking during dining at food establishments.

Jackson County. Face coverings are required in Jackson County as of July 1 for individuals who are in public, including in workplaces or churches. Masks are required in restaurants but can be removed when a person is “actively eating or drinking.”

Cass County. No face masks are required unless the State issues a mandatory state-wide order.

Kansas City. The latest emergency order in Kansas City requires people to wear a face mask while indoors at public places. Additionally, the June 29 directive requires employees and visitors in places of public accommodation to wear masks when social distancing is not possible.

“Our country’s leading health and scientific experts have indicated in no uncertain terms that mask-wearing is the most effective way to curb the spread of COVID-19,” Mayor Quinton Lucas said. “Case numbers in Kansas City continue to rise, and we are taking all the steps we can to ensure public health and safety.”

North Kansas City. Beginning July 2, individuals in North Kansas City are required to wear a face mask while in public places, including on public transit or to the grocery store. The directive does allow for some exceptions, such as minors, people with respiratory problems, and those who are hearing impaired. Masks are not required while seated at a restaurant.

Johnson County, KS. On July 2, the Board of County Commissioners voted to follow Kansas Governor Laura Kelly’s executive order requiring masks to be worn in public spaces. It also requires masks outdoors when six feet of physical distance cannot be maintained. There are a number of exemptions. Children 5 and younger will not be required to wear masks.

–Dwight Widaman | Metro Voice