Home / Topeka News / Shawnee County tweaks face mask order
Shawnee County mask order

Shawnee County tweaks face mask order

Shawnee County commissioners voted 2-1 July 6 to make face masks mandatory indoors and outdoors when people can’t practice social distancing. The order went into effect July 9.

Since then it has been tweaked for restaurants and bars, which can operate between the hours of 6:00 AM to 11:00 PM on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and 6:00 AM to midnight on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

Between the hours of 2:00 PM and 3:00 PM every day each establishment shall close its dine-in service. During that time establishments shall conduct deep cleaning and sanitation, and can only operate via curb pick-up, home delivery or outdoors service like a patio. This was later clarified to say that they may remain open between 2:00 and 3:00 PM if they can safely complete the deep cleaning without affecting patrons.

Establishments with a maximum capacity set forth by the Fire Marshall of greater than 100 people can only operate at 50% of that capacity.

Service or consumption of food or drinks at a counter/bar or in standing-only areas is prohibited. Consumption of food and beverages shall only take place at a table via seated service.

Dance floors shall be closed due to the difficulty of maintaining social distance and enforcing mass gathering limits.


According to the order, masks are not required:

  • For children under the age of 10
  • When 6-ft. social distance can be achieved, except for infrequent or incidental moments of closer proximity.
  • While swimming
  • While eating or drinking at a restaurant or bar
  • When a medical or mental health condition makes the wearing of a mask harmful
  • When speaking or presenting to an audience or congregation if more than 10 feet away
  • While in strenuous physical activity in a gym or outdoors as long social distancing can be achieved

READ: Local author writes book from unique perspective


According to the order, a “face mask or other face covering” means a covering of the nose and mouth secured to the head with ties, straps, loops over ears or wrapped around the lower face from the nose down.

The definition also includes a clear plastic face shield that covers the forehead, extends below the chin and wraps around the sides of the face.

Shawnee County Health Officer Gianfranco Pezzino said it was important to act as case numbers have grown in the county.

“It’s a two-pronged rule:  are you more than six feet apart? If you’re not more than six feet apart, put on a mask. I mean it’s not complicated – I’m not sure why we’re overthinking it,” Commissioner Kevin Cook said after voting in favor of the order.

Commissioner Aaron Mays also voted for the mask order, and Commissioner Bill Riphahn voted against it.

If someone intentionally violates any part of the order, that person could see a civil penalty up to $2,500 per violation, although law enforcement officers will not be enforcing the mandate. County officials and the health department are in charge of enforcement, and they have stated that they are mainly concerned with businesses abiding by the order, and that individuals are only a concern if they are making a scene.

Government proponents of mask mandates say they’re driven by data, but the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) says cloth and surgical masks “will not protect the wearer against airborne transmissible infectious agents due to loose fit and lack of seal or inadequate filtration.

Shawnee County has had 990 positive cases and 13 deaths year to date, with only 10 persons currently hospitalized.

The mortality rate in Kansas outside of nursing homes and clusters overall fell to 00.7% as of July 6.

–Lee Hartman | Metro Voice

Go here to visit the Topeka Metro Voice Facebook page for local event notices, breaking news and local announcements. To help us spread the word, and to continue seeing our posts on your Facebook feed, “Like” the page and then like or share a story now and then, so that they will keep showing up in your feed.

Can You Help?

With events and churches cancelling services, the advertising that the Topeka Metro Voice relies on for support is drying up. For 14 years, Topeka Metro Voice has been a leader in the faith-based community. We have historically relied on advertising to fund the mission of our publication and sharing the Good News, as well as supporting local small businesses and community events. We are now seeking partners who want to support our publication and our mission of faith-based journalism and supporting the community and local small businesses.

Do you like what you read here? Help us continue our mission by supporting the Topeka Metro Voice in print and online for as little as $5. Every contribution counts, big or small. We sincerely thank you for your continued support and encouragement in these critical times.