Wichita businesses move to require masks

As Kansas counties take a hand-off approach, it's left to individuals and businesses to decide how faithfully they want to follow the order
Published: Jul. 2, 2020 at 10:44 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Businesses are preparing to adapt to the face mask mandate and places for your workout are some of the places making it a needed accessory.

Starting Friday, Chicken-N-Pickle will require customers to wear a mask.

“Our job as a Kansas business is to abide by any mandate the state of Kansas comes up with, so we are going to be enforcing this and unfortunately if you’re not able to wear your mask, we are going to have to ask people to leave,” said Kelsey Rockett.

There are some exemptions. You don’t have to wear a mask while playing pickleball or when you’re drinking or eating food.

“There’s a lot of different activities that you can do, and again it’s six feet from people you are not currently there with. So the group that you came in with, you can be within 6 feet of them, it’s the group over there unless you have a mask,” Rockett said.

The decision is up to each business for now. Sedgwick County Sheriff Jeff Easter says his office will not enforce Gov. Laura Kelly’s statewide mask mandate.

“From a law enforcement perspective, there’s nothing for us to enforce. It’s not a criminal act. It could be a civil penalty, based upon the statute, and I refuse to have our deputies, especially in the climate in the culture that we’re in right now, go out and stop and detain somebody,” the sheriff said.

Still, businesses like Orange Theory Fitness say they will follow the new rule.

“We are doing our part in trying to really help keep a clean studio and keep our members feeling safe while they’re there,” said OrangeTheory Fitness owner Jacob Wayman.

Masks at OrangeTheory Fitness is already a part of the routine for employees.

Wayman said, “When we reopened on May 26th, we required all employees to wear masks the entire time they’re on their shift. Out coaches that are coaching a class are in a mask and also our front desk staff is in a mask too throughout the entire shift.”

Starting July 3, OrangeTheory Fitness will start requiring their members to wear a mask when entering their studios and at certain points when moving around inside.

“When they line up, we have these cones outside of our front door, that they wait till they can come in, temperature check when they walk in. We done that prior to this, but they’ll all be having a mask when they walk into the studio,” Wayman said. “When they actually get their equipment number, which you can actually see on our treadmills, they’re going to be assigned equipment number; we’re going to go every other station when we’re in here. Once they start on the machine, they have the choice to take it off because the part of the executive order says athletes if you can maintain social distancing of six-feet, you’re allowed to workout without a mask. But once they transition to the rower or weigh floor, they’ll actually put the mask back on to transition.”

Wayman went over these details and the other precautions in place during a meeting of businesses and Sedgwick County Commissioners during a discussion on Gov. Kelly’s executive order on masks.

“By having the masks, we’re able to control that, at least in our environment. When they’re here for their hour, we know that we are keeping this environment as safe as possible,” said Wayman.

Wayman said overall, about 30 percent of their members have not returned to the gym because of concerns of the ongoing pandemic.

“With the cases starting to increase over the past couple of weeks, we’ve had several more members freezing their membership during this time too.” Wayman said. “So, it’s been a pretty big impact to us financially.”

The business is one Wayman and his wife bought in January.

“We actually were closed longer than we were actually owners of the business,” said Wayman. “We were closed for 66 days, so our goal right now is to keep our business open and we’re going to do whatever it takes to keep us open.”

That’s why they’re taking all the steps they can.

Wayman said, “Do whatever we can to get us back to full operation, get our schools back open for our kids because a lot of our members are moms.”

Greater Wichita YMCA announced masks will be required starting Monday, July 6.

There are a few exemptions to this new rule:

  • Children (ages 0-7) and individuals with a medical condition, a mental health condition, or a disability that prevents wearing a face mask
  • When actively engaging in fitness activities including:
    • Exercising and/or using equipment on fitness floors
    • Participating in group exercise classes or programs
    • Playing in gyms, on racquetball courts, or in organized sports
    • Swimming, using aquatics facilities, or showering

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