Mission’s mask mandate to end next week — Here’s where city mask orders in JoCo stand now

The Mission City Council has decided to let a citywide mask mandate expire next week. Above, a masked customer studies at Urban Prairie Coffee on Wednesday afternoon in downtown Mission. (Urban Prairie Coffee is only encouraging masks and not requiring them). Photo credit Leah Wankum.

The citywide mask mandate in Mission is ending next week.

After some discussion and hearing comments from a few residents, the Mission City Council on Wednesday voted 6-1 to allow an ordinance requiring face coverings in public spaces during the COVID-19 pandemic to expire on Wednesday, Feb. 23.

Councilmember Ben Chociej cast the dissenting vote. Councilmember Ken Davis was absent.

Mission’s mask order has been in place since Jan. 18 and ends next Wednesday.

Neighboring Prairie Village and Roeland Park also established mask mandates around the same time as Mission.

City councils in those two cities both opted to extend their mandates through March 12.

Fairway also passed a mask ordinance in January, but decided against extending it before it expires Thursday, as well.

Falling COVID-19 rates

At the time these cities established mask mandates, the positivity rate for COVID-19 exceeded 30%. The positivity rate now stands at about 17.8% as of Feb. 7, according to city documents.

“That was exactly what we were hoping to see,” said City Administrator Laura Smith. “I don’t think any of us would stand here and take credit for that drop, based on actions that we’ve taken, but this is exactly the position that we wanted to be in and seeing those numbers come down as dramatically as they went up.”

The mask mandate in Mission required everyone to wear a face covering in publicly accessible spaces in the city, with certain exceptions.

Individual violators could be fined up to $25. Businesses and organizations had no obligation to enforce the mandate, leaving compliance up to individuals.

“I’m in favor of letting it expire; I think we’re in a different position than we were when we first looked at this however many weeks back,” said Councilmember Trent Boultinghouse. “Just to kind of reiterate: We’re all sick of talking about this. This has been the dominant thing on my tenure since I’ve been on the council. I’ve been proud of our response up until now. I thought we’ve always expressed pretty sound judgment but, in this case, I think it’s probably time to let it go.”

At Wednesday’s meeting, a few residents spoke against the mask mandate, citing concerns with government overreach, a potential negative impact on businesses and a lack of compliance from individuals.

Impact to Sylvester Powell Jr. Community Center, other city facilities

Some COVID-19 mitigation protocols will likely remain in place inside city-owned public buildings, particularly the Sylvester Powell Jr. Community Center, city hall and the police station.

These protocols, which mostly relate to the community center, could include:

  • Masking required in common areas such as lobbies and common areas
  • Masking encouraged but not required in private rental spaces or when actively exercising
  • Establishing multiple check-in points at community center entrances
  • Leaving water fountains inaccessible but allowing access to water bottle fillers
  • Keeping child watch area open and requiring masks for staff but allowing them to be optional for children
  • Keeping a 30-minute buffer and sanitizing between rentals

The city council voted 6-1 to keep these COVID-19 mitigation protocols in place. Councilmember Kristin Inman cast the dissenting vote.

A recording of the meeting is on the city’s Facebook page. Discussion begins at 1:03:23.