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Face mask education over enforcement in Wichita

Coronavirus in Kansas

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – No fines have been handed out in Wichita over the new mandatory mask ordinance.

Police say there will be education instead of enforcement.

Wichita Mayor Brandon Whipple says that will be the case, at least for now.

“Legally, we do have the authority to levy fines against folks who choose not to wear masks,” said Whipple. “However, we learned during the shutdown that it was very successful utilizing education to influence people to do the right thing.”

The city ordinance says you can get a $25 fine for a first violation, $50 for a second, and $100 for subsequent violations.

KSN asked the Wichita Police Department on Monday if officers will be handing out tickets that carry a fine for not wearing a mask in public when social distancing is not possible.

Officer Paul Cruz sent a response.

“We are continuing to work through the details and frequently asked questions about the City’s new mask ordinance. When it comes to the use of facemasks during this pandemic, WPD will continue to emphasize education and voluntary compliance,” said Cruz. “We encourage residents who have a question or concern about the facemasks ordinance to call the City’s mask hotline at 303-8255, or visit wichita.gov/coronavirus. Please do not call 9-1-1 about facemasks.”

The mayor says while you can still be fined if you are not wearing a mask, the goal of the ordinance was about education.

“Our police officers will have discretion,” said Whipple. “They will have to have masks with them to be able to hand out to folks who might need them.”

Officer Cruz said masks will be given away at the four police substations for those who can not afford to buy a mask.

“We’re pleased that Wichita Police Department recently received a generous donation of 10,000 KN95 masks from Air Capital Distribution,” said Cruz. “So residents needing a mask can now get one from one of our four Patrol Sub Stations for free, Monday-Friday between 8 a.m. – 5: p.m. Masks are available for everyone who wants one, but please be considerate of those who may not be able to afford a mask and those who are at high risk due to health issues.”

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