Prairie Village leaders vote down ordinance requiring masks inside businesses

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PRAIRIE VILLAGE, Kan. — The Prairie Village City Council voted against a proposal that would have made masks a requirement inside businesses.

The ordinance, introduced by Councilwoman Jori Nelson, would have required anyone over the age of 5 to wear a mask whenever they went inside a Prairie Village business.

The only exemptions would be places of worship, public school buildings and county buildings.

It needed at least seven yes votes to pass, and instead got seven no votes. The council voted it down 5-7.

If it had passed, businesses would have had to post signs of the requirement. Customers caught not wearing a mask could have gotten a $25 ticket from police.

The business could also face a fine.

Those against the measure argued it would have been difficult to get people to comply and could lead to violence.

The city prosecutor and police chief were both not in favor of the proposal.

They said it would be hard to enforce, take officers away from other important duties, and put officers’ health at risk since they would be dealing with many more people not wearing masks.

What was most troubling for Mayor Eric Mikkelson was opposition from Police Chief Tim Schwartzkopf, who said it would lead to distrust from residents.

“I just read a study from Duke University that suggests one-third of people won’t do something if you force them to do it,” Mikkelson said.

“But if you suggest that they do it and educate them it’s the right thing, one-third of people will only do it that way — and I’m convinced that’s the best path for Prairie Village.”

He also noted that no other cities in the area have considered a similar mandate.

Mikkelson and other council members who voted against the ordinance said they’ll support finding educational resources for businesses and residents on how to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

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