City of Wichita to enforce latest health order by county
WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - The City of Wichita voted to enforce Sedgwick County’s latest health order in the city. The resolution passed 5-2. Violating the order could result in a class I misdemeanor which could net up to a $500 fine. The order requires masks in public and limits mass gatherings to 100 people or 50 percent capacity for some businesses. Restaurants can only seat up to eight people per table and bars, clubs, and restaurants serving alcohol must close in-person service by 11 p.m.
The City of Wichita’s approved resolution allows police officers, firefighters, and code-enforcement officers to enforce Sedgwick County’s new health order. The city will focus enforcement on repeat offenders. If people or businesses continue to ignore restrictions, the $500 fine could come into play.
“Throughout the year, we’ve worked hand-in-hand in collaboration with the county. The county will intake the complaints. It’s really for those who don’t comply with warnings. That’s potentially when we will get involved,” Wichita Police Chief Gordon Ramsay said.
Enforcement is a last-ditch effort by the City of Wichita to intervene as hospitals reach full capacity.
“What will happen if we get more patients if they get to that point where they are putting patients in the hallways?” Mayor Brandon Whipple said.
In the coming days, the City of Wichita is planning to set up a hotline which people can call if they see another person or business ignoring the new restrictions.
The City of Wichita will discuss enforcing Sedgwick County’s mask ordinance at a special meeting Thursday. The meeting will take place at 9 a.m.
USD 259 is urging cities in its area – Wichita, Kechi, Park City, and Bel Aire – to enforce the order. In a letter supporting the resolution by the district, it said that the district is in the process of considering closing “a number” of school buildings due to staffing shortages. The letter continued, saying if the order is not enforced, the district will have to close even more buildings.
“Clearly, the current practice of asking citizens to voluntarily comply with COVID-19 safety measures is not working universally,” the letter reads.
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