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Wichita City Council extends mask ordinance

Published: Sep. 8, 2020 at 5:50 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - After hours of comments and discussion, the Wichita City Council Tuesday evening voted to extend its mask ordinance.

In the 4-3 vote, the council set Oct. 21 as the next sunset for the order requiring masks in public within city limits. The council also put in metrics that would allow that order to end early if the percentage of positive COVID-19 tests dips to 5 percent or below.

In a second and final vote, the council voted 5-2 to give final approval to the measure.

The city put the ordinance in place back in July at the urging of the medical community to help slow the spread of the virus.

More than 120 people addressed city leaders during Tuesday’s council meeting that lasted nearly nine hours. Hundreds showed up to Century II for Tuesday’s meeting. Many of those who took the podium stressed that wearing a mask in public should be an individual choice and not a citywide mandate. Others questioned the effectiveness, the science and the data supporting mask-wearing as an effective practice to slow the spread of COVID-19. Some even said the order needs to end to help restore the local economy.

Margaret Brant, among those to speak out against the order, said she has a medical exemption which the ordinance allows, but even that has limited where she can go and what she can do.

“They don’t know me. They don’t know my situation and yet they feel perfectly comfortable with telling me how to handle my own health situations. That’s not okay,” she said.

Of the 121 people to speak to the city council, only one spoke in favor of the mask order.

“I don’t really feel like it’s a burden for me to put this on and protect those around me, and I’d love if others would do the same for me as well,” said Todd Ramsey, owner of the Apples and Arrows branding agency in Wichita’s Douglas Design District.

Ramsey said he came to Tuesday’s city council meeting after seeing so many people speak out against the order. He said he wanted to come to clear up misinformation and to provide a business perspective.

“I believe the mask mandate helps us as business owners stay open, rather than having to have a forced shutdown again,” he said.

Last week, Sedgwick County also extended its mask order through Oct. 21. Part of the proposal the council voted on Tuesday was to bring the City of Wichita closer in line with the county’s order.

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