Roeland Park mask mandate goes into effect for indoor public spaces

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ROELAND PARK, Kan. — Roeland Park is the latest municipality in Johnson County to implement a city-wide mask mandate. Following the lead of Prairie Village, the City of Roeland Park will require anyone over the age of 5 to wear a face mask in indoor public spaces. 

Monday, the Roeland Park city council unanimously approved a resolution to issue a mask mandate. 

The mask mandate will go into effect Tuesday, August 24 at 12:01 a.m. The health order is set to expire on October 19, at 12:01 a.m. unless rescinded, extended or modified by the city council. 

Masks will be required in public indoor spaces and must cover a person’s nose and mouth. 

Places of worship, including churches, mosques and synagogues, are exempt from the mandate. Federal and county government buildings are also exempt from masking requirements.  

Masks will not be required for:

  • Children younger than 5 years old. 
  • Individuals with medical conditions that would prohibit wearing face masks. 
  • A seated customer who is actively eating or drinking in a bar or restaurant.
  • Individuals who are are deaf or hard of hearing.

If a person is in an indoor public building without a mask, they will first be asked to put a mask on or leave the facility. If the individual does not put on a mask or leave the area, the property owner will contact Roeland Park police. 

Anyone who refuses to wear a mask could face a $25 fine. 

In a memo to the city council, Roeland Park Police Chief John Morris said writing citations for noncompliance will be a last resort and the department will emphasize education efforts.

That memo reads in part: 

“Our goal has been and will continue to be, with calls for service of concerns of mask compliances, an emphasis on education and not enforcement. Enforcement action will require a supervisor’s approval first and will only be as a last resort.” 

Julia Thomas owns Imagine Wholeness Massage Therapy, a small clinic in Roeland Park. She said the new mask mandate is more than just a rule; for her, it’s personal.

“It’s killed a number of people I know and love. I’ve got a friend in the ICU,” she said.

Leaders in Roeland Park said they understand the quick switch back to mask wearing can be exhausting to those who live in the city.

“We are all frustrated and tired and ready for some return to normal, but we are proud of our community and governing body to weathering those changes,” said Erin Winn, Roeland Park Assistant City Administrator.

But Thomas said the mandate is something she will always support. She and her employees have stuck to wearing masks since the pandemic began, due to the close nature between massage therapists and their clients.

Shortly after the first mask mandate issued last year, Thomas lost many customers who didn’t approve of covering up.

“They were replaced ten-fold with people who want to be safe and know how risky it is,” she said. “I get calls all day asking if we are safe, if we are vaccinated.”

As her business flourished in the midst of the pandemic, Thomas and most of her employees were also vaccinated. Thomas said she still wants to make sure her employees and her clients are safe. Now, there’s an official order to back her up safety protocols.

“I think they are doing the right thing. They are following the science. This is nothing to mess around with,” she said.

The city said the community plays a big part in whether or not the mask mandate gets extended or ends Oct. 19.

“We are asking for continued willingness to cooperate with science as the guidance of experts as our situation shifts as our situation evolves,” Winn said.

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