‘It’s not that big of an ask’: This city in Johnson County extended its mask mandate

·2 min read

The Prairie Village City Council on Monday approved extending the citywide mask mandate through the end of October.

In approving the measure, the council cited the fact that the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers Johnson County an area of high transmission of COVID-19. The council’s decision had the support of the county health department.

Prairie Village was the first Johnson County city to enact its own mask mandate as COVID-19 cases surged, driven by the highly contagious delta variant. Prairie Village and Roeland Park are the only cities in Johnson County to require masks in most indoor public settings.

Without the extension, the mask mandate would have expired on Sept. 30.

Saying the mandate was “not a burden,” Councilmember Jori Nelson said all they are telling people to do is wear a mask when they go into a grocery store, get their things and leave.

“Masks work,” Nelson said. “It’s not that big of an ask. Schools are doing it all day long. Children can do it. Adults can do it too. It’s not that big of an ask.”

Disappointment in county leaders

Mayor Eric Mikkelson expressed disappointment in county leaders for not taking a larger regional action in the face of the delta variant.

He praised the county government and the Johnson County health department for “courageously and heroically” doing a great job through the pandemic.

“But on this particular point I feel that there’s been a bit of an abdication, leaving this to a city that doesn’t have its own health department to confront this,” he said. “We shouldn’t be having to do this but it falls on us to have these tough discussions because of where we are.”

The mandate allows businesses to opt out of the mandate if they require everyone to provide proof of full vaccination upon entry.

There also are exemptions for children under the age of 5, people with certain medical conditions, people participating in religious ceremonies and others.

The city council plans to review the mask mandate at its Oct. 4 meeting and could repeal the mandate prior to the Oct. 31.

The council approved the extension in an 11-1 vote. Councilmember Sheila Meyers voted against it.

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