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Wichita mayor receives concerns from business owners who say some customers won’t wear masks

Coronavirus in Kansas

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Wichita Mayor Brandon Whipple said the main concerns he’s hearing from business owners is that some customers are refusing to wear masks despite the mask ordinance.

Masks for both children and adults have been flying off the shelves at Clifton Collective, but some business owners said there are still customers and clients who will not wear one.

“Even before it was mandated, we mandated it here,” said Juliana Cavender, owner of Clifton Collective and Everyday Beauty. “So, we are just further explaining our reasons to them.”

Business owners are bringing their worries to Mayor Whipple who said the top concern in Friday’s (July 10) Small Business Advisory Council meeting was enforcement and how to handle customers who refuse to wear masks. Some businesses even expressed concerns about their employees, too.

“They have people coming in, they’re saying that they’re not going to wear a mask,” said Mayor Whipple. “They find out later that it’s not for medical reasons.”

Wichita Police and the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office said they’re focusing on education before issuing citations. At the same time, shop owners are doing their part to explain why they are requiring masks.

“I understand it,” said Natasha Gandhi-Rue, owner of The Kitchen. “I see all parts of the argument and I think there’s validity on all sides. This is what our city has asked us to do, so we’re doing it.”

The Kitchen is going as far as adding dry erase boards to every table for those customers who don’t want to be bothered frequently by servers. The owner is also giving employees frequent breaks.

“The hardest part honestly is my staff having to wear them for long periods of time and when we’re in the kitchen, it’s hot,” said Gandhi-Rue.

Mayor Whipple said he has seen an increase in people wearing masks in public. He and others hope it stays that way.

“I don’t think this is a time to try to prove a point or a time to try to make a political stance or statement,” said Cavender. “This is really about honoring each other and each other’s health.”

The City of Wichita has created a hotline for mask-related concerns. You can call the hotline at 316-308-8255.

Sedgwick County’s mask mandate goes thorough August 9 and Wichita’s ends on August 11.

Officials said at that time, they will reevaluate to decide if the mandates should continue or end.

For the full City of Wichita mask ordinance, click here.

For the full Sedgwick County emergency public health order, click here.

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