TOPEKA – Gov. Laura Kelly on Thursday released an executive order that requires Kansans to wear face coverings in most public spaces beginning at 12:01 a.m. Friday.
Kelly first introduced the order on Monday, and the language of the order shows it would impact the day-to-day lives of almost every single Kansas resident.
“The last few months have presented many new challenges for Kansans, and all of us want to return to our normal lives and routines,” Kelly said. “Unfortunately, we have seen a spike in the number of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths across our state and our country. We must act.
“Viruses don’t stop at county lines. This order doesn’t change where you can go or what you can do. But wearing a mask is a simple and effective way to keep Kansans healthy and keep Kansas open for business.”
According to the text of the order, it’s clear that masks must be work in indoor public spaces and outdoor areas where social distancing isn’t possible.
Kelly said it now is up to the Kansas attorney general, county attorneys and district attorneys to “determine appropriate enforcement actions.” The State Finance Council will review the order at 1 p.m. Thursday.
The order states that residents must wear a mask or covering over their face and nose if:
- They go inside a public space, or are in line to enter one.
- If they go to the doctor or health care facility like the hospital, pharmacy, medical clinic, laboratory, physician or dental office, veterinary clinic, or blood bank.
- Using public transportation, taxi or ride-share.
- Outside in a public space where maintaining 6-foot distance between people is not possible.
- All businesses that have interaction with the public.
- Anyone working with food preparation for distribution.
- Any employee, while inside a room with others, where maintaining 6-foot distance between people is not possible.
Exemptions to the order:
- Children 5 years old or under, especially those who are 2 years old and under because of the risk of suffocation.
- Anyone with a medical condition that prevents them from wearing a mask or covering.
- Those who are deaf or hearing impaired.
- Employees do not need to wear a mask if it would create a risk to the person related to their work.
- Customers in a restaurant who are eating or drinking and able to maintain a 6-foot distance from other customers.
- Athletes in an organized sports activity.
- The Kansas Legislature.
- Anytime wearing a face mask if prohibited by law.
Definitions of how a mask is worn and what a public space is:
- “Mask or other face covering” means a covering of the nose and mouth that is secured to the head with ties, straps, or loops over the ears or is simply wrapped around the lower face. A mask or other face covering can be made of a variety of synthetic and natural fabrics, including cotton, silk, or linen. Ideally, a mask or other face covering has two or more layers. A mask or other face covering may be factory-made, sewn by hand, or can be improvised from household items such as scarfs, bandanas, T-shirts, sweatshirts, or towels.
- “Public space” means any indoor or outdoor space or area that is open to the public; this does not include private residential property or private offices or workspaces that are not open to customers or public visitors.