Effective last week, people who go out in public in Kansas City, Missouri, North Kansas City, Missouri, Jackson County in Missouri, Johnson and Wyandotte Counties in Kansas and most areas in the State of Kansas (due to a statewide order) will be required by law to wear a face mask, including employees and customers. Positive test results for the novel coronavirus have been on the rise across the country, including the Kansas City area and health officials have argued face mask ordinances may be able to turn the increase in COVID-19 cases around and prevent local governments from having to take more extreme measures, like stay-at-home orders and business closures.
While enforcing a face mask law in the workplace isn’t something small business owners may want to do, the goal of mask mandates is to help businesses stay open and operational by reducing transmission of COVID-19, which is likely a shared goal among small business owners everywhere. Additionally, compliance with face mask laws will prevent business owners from facing fines or being shut down by local health officials.
To sum up the Kansas City area’s various face mask orders, employers who have public-facing workplaces (i.e., retail, restaurants, salons) are to require all employees and customers to wear masks at all times. For workplaces operating out of office buildings, if solitary cubicles are able to maintain 6-feet of social distance between employees or if employees work from solitary offices, then face masks only need to be worn when employees are up walking around the office, using the restroom or visiting the break room or lobby. However, if 6-feet of social distance is not regularly maintained, then face masks must be worn by employees at all times (except while actively eating or drinking).
Other face mask exemptions include certain respiratory conditions and disabilities, people who have been told by a medical, legal or behavioral health professional not to wear face coverings, minors (under the age of 5-years), and people who are actively engaged in eating or drinking at a dining establishment). Employers should refer to their local state, county or city order for full details on exemptions.
Here’s a list of the face mask orders in the Kansas City area and how they impact employers.
State of Kansas
The Order: Governor Kelly issued statewide Executive Order #20-52 which took effect July 3rd and remains in place until rescinded. The Executive Order requires Kansans to wear masks while inside any public space, including their workplace, or in situations where 6-feet of social distance cannot be maintained. According to Governor Kelly’s Executive Order, “Wearing a mask in public is necessary to avoid more restrictive local measures that could involve closing businesses, schools, organized youth sports, and other important activities.”
Business Impact: The Executive Order states: “All businesses or organizations in Kansas must require all employees, customers, visitors, members or members of the public to wear a mask or other face-covering when:
- Employees are working in any space visited by customers or members of the public regardless of whether anyone from the public is present at the time;
- Employees are working in any space where food is prepared or packaged for sale or distribution to others;
- Employees are working in or walking through common areas such as hallways, stairways, elevators, and parking facilities;
- Customers, members, visitors or members of the public are in a facility managed by the business or organizations; or
- Employees are in any room or an enclosed area where other people (except for individuals who reside together) are present and unable to maintain a 6-foot distance except for infrequent or incidental moments of closer proximity.”
Exemptions: Kansans five years of age or under, those with medical conditions and others specifically outlined in the order are exempt from these requirements.
Johnson County, Kansas
The Johnson County Board of Commissioners called a special meeting on July 2nd to consider Governor Kelly’s statewide order. After more than two and a half hours, the board voted to uphold the State of Kansas’ mask mandate which took effect Friday, July 3rd. Full details on the mandate can be found in the State of Kansas section above.
Wyandotte County - Kansas City, Kansas
The Order: Kansas City, Kansas Mayor David Alvey issued the mask mandate that took effect on Tuesday, June 30, which requires masks to be worn in almost any public space, indoor or outdoor. According to WycoKCK, this includes workplaces, businesses, places of worship, community centers, public transportation, ride-sharing services, bus stops, sidewalks, parks, playgrounds, farmers’ markets, and more.
Business Impact: The Order requires employees to wear masks while at work, and employers are strongly encouraged to enforce mask-wearing among their employees except when employees are alone in enclosed workplaces, like individual offices. Employees may remove their masks while actively eating or drinking, but they should be replaced immediately after. Employees should maintain social distancing of at least 6-foot while in the workplace.
When it comes to enforcing mask-wearing among customers, businesses are not legally responsible for enforcement. Businesses should post signage about the mask ordinance in places clearly visible to customers made available by the Unified Government Public Health Department for download or in printed form. While businesses are not legally responsible for enforcement, customers are legally required to wear masks in any public spaces, including inside businesses.
State of Missouri
Currently, the State of Missouri does not have a statewide mask mandate.
Jackson County, Missouri
The Order: Effective July 1 through July 12, all employees or visitors to any place of public accommodation in Jackson County Missouri, both indoors and outdoors, must wear face coverings. This includes workplaces, businesses, schools, places of worship, community centers, libraries, medical offices, restaurant/bar patio seating, and more. Face masks are not required while employees work from solitary offices.
City of Kansas City, Missouri
The Order: On Friday, July 10, Mayor Quinton Lucas announced he would be extending the mask mandate until at least 12:01 a.m. on August 15, 2020. The order will be evaluated on an ongoing basis based on guidance from public health officials and medical experts. In Kansas City, Missouri, Mayor Quinton Lucas, in consultation with the Kansas City Department of Public Health Director Rex Archer, M.D., issued a face mask mandate Order that took effect on Monday, June 29th and lasts through July 12th. The Order requires all employees or visitors to any place of public accommodation to wear face coverings in an area or while performing an activity which involves close contact or proximity to co-workers or the public where six feet of social distance is not possible.
“Our country’s leading health and scientific experts have indicated in no uncertain terms that mask-wearing is the most effective way to curb the spread of COVID-19,” explains Mayor Lucas. “Case numbers in Kansas City continue to rise, and we are taking all steps we can to ensure public health and safety. I know wearing masks can be uncomfortable, but this is a necessary step to ensure we can save lives and keep our economy open. We wear masks to protect our loved ones, those around us, and their loved ones.”
Exemptions: According to the City of Kansas City, Missouri, the following individuals are exempt from the Order:
- Minors, though Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance recommends all individuals over the age of two wear masks.
- People who have disabilities:
- Prevent them from comfortably wearing or taking off face coverings.
- Prevent them from communicating while wearing face coverings.
- People who have respiratory conditions or breathing trouble.
- People who have been told by a medical, legal, or behavioral health professional not to wear face coverings.
- People who are seated in a restaurant, tavern, or bar and are actively engaged in consuming food or drink while adequately distanced from other tables.
Violations: The City’s 311 hotline and website are available for the public to report businesses not in compliance with the Order. The first complaint against a business for failure to comply results in a phone call to the business. A second complaint results in an in-person visit from a representative of the KC Health Department. Further violations may result in fines and/or temporary business shutdown.
City of North Kansas City, Missouri
The Order: The City of North Kansas City, Missouri has a mandatory face mask order in effect from July 1 through 11:59 p.m. on July 12. The order includes all public spaces including grocery stores, retail stores, special events, and public transit.
Business Impact: Face masks must be worn by all employees in public-facing business roles. If your business is not open to the public, employees are not required to wear face masks, but social distancing of at least 6-feet must be maintained. That said, employees should be strongly encouraged to wear face masks in busy parts of your workplaces including break rooms, conference rooms, restrooms and lobbies.
Employer Resources: The City of North Kansas City, Missouri has provided the following downloadable signs for business owners to print and post at their place of business:
Violations: Non-compliance with any provision of this Order may result in the suspension or revocation of the offending business’ Certificate of Occupancy and/or Business License in accordance with the Code of the City of North Kansas City, Missouri; and/or in a fine as provided for in Ordinance No. 9315.
As Kansas City’s local PEO since 1988, we fully support locally-made PPE. To find reusable masks and face shields made by local businesses, visit KCPPE.com, maintained by Made in KC in response to Mayor Quinton Lucas’ desire to provide local businesses with local procurement options.