PRAIRIE VILLAGE, Kan. — Prairie Village leaders are looking into an ordinance to require people to wear masks or other facial coverings when they are in public spaces, like city hall, as a way to prevent new coronavirus infections.
Council member Jori Nelson introduced the proposal during Monday’s City Council meeting, which was conducted via Zoom.
“My hope is that it will be as common as, ‘No shirt, no shoes, no service.’ But now it will be, ‘no mask,’” Nelson said.
The council has not yet decided to draft such an ordinance, voting 11-1 on Monday to have the city attorney look into what requirements other cities have imposed and draft an ordinance to the “maximum extent legally permissible.”
“Like all of our safety ordinances we have in place, the wearing of a face mask is to help protect our citizen’s safety, health and welfare and is more immediate and magnified due to the extremely contagious virus,” Nelson said.
Nelson suggested the ordinance not include parks, but indoor public spaces.
Mayor Eric Mikkelson and Police Chief Tim Schwartzkopf were among several who voiced concerns about the legality of an ordinance and how the city would enforce it.
“This will create more calls for service for us and quite frankly, we don’t have the capacity to respond,” Schwartzkopf said.
There are currently no cities in Kansas that require people to wear masks or face coverings in public spaces. Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly and her administration have encouraged people to wear face masks or coverings to prevent the spread of COVID-19 but have not mandated it. Johnson County also has not mandated masks or face coverings.
“People are already very, very confused of a hodge podge of rules every which way,” Mikkelson said.
Laredo, Texas, implemented an emergency order requiring residents to wear masks or face coverings, but police cannot cite or fine those who are not wearing one.
Los Angeles leaders also are exploring whether to require residents to have masks or facial coverings when they leave their home.
According to city officials, Prairie Village City Council will discuss the ordinance at the next council meeting or at a special meeting prior to May 18 if a draft of the ordinance is finished sooner.