McPherson passes new mask ordinance

Chad Frey

There was some COVID-19 news at the McPherson City Commission — the annual Mayor’s Cup basketball games will not be at the Round House this year, and the commission took action to renew a facial covering ordinance in the city.

The commission took a look at recent statistical reports — including the Oct. 23 report that showed 18 new cases — all but one were symptomatic cases of the disease. Most stemmed from a known exposure to the disease.

Because we have had a lot of cases lately, we are in a red the last two days(according to a report by Harvard Global),“ said mayor Tom Brown said. ”We are right at 30 The threshold is 25. That is not doing good.“

Brown read letters from four different doctors from the area as the commission evaluated a mask ordinance.

The city launched a “Kick COVID” campaign about a week ago. At that same time, a motion to renew the mask ordinance, with an expiration, died for a lack of the second. The previous ordinance actually expired Sept. 9.

“COVID is open ended,’ said commissioner Gary Mehl said. “It has no ...stopping date. I do not want to look at yellow or red or that and change it every time something different comes up. I would like to leave it open ended to a date at the discretion of the commission and we form a consensus with the medical community of McPherson as to when it is safe.”

The city commission passed, unanimously, a mask ordinance with no expiration date. They had been presented with an option that would have expired the ordinance in November. The ordinance will go into effect at 12:01 a.m. Oct. 28.

The ordinance sets a $10 fine, with no court costs, for those who refuse to comply — thought the ordinance does contain exemptions.

“I have been an advocate of the people of this community,” Brown said. “No matter what we do, we get a landslide from the other side. ... The other viewpoint is not the opposition, it is not the enemy. Bringing this down to respectable place that we can deal with is what we have to do. Coronavirus is the opponent here, not each other. We have to help each other, regardless of what you believe.”

The ordinance states facial coversings should be worn inside any indoor public space where distancing of six feet at all times is not possible; in line and waiting to enter any indoor public space; obtaining services from the healthcare sector in settings; waiting for or riding on public transportation or while in a taxi, private car service, or ride-sharing vehicle; and while outdoors in public spaces and unable to maintain six feet of distance between individuals (not including individuals who reside together) with only infrequent or incidental moments of closer proximity.

Exempted from the ordinance are:

• Children under five;

• Persons with a medical condition, mental health condition, or disability that prevents wearing a face covering;

• Persons who are hearing-impaired, or communicating with a person who is hearing-impaired, where the ability to see the mouth is essential for communication;

• Persons for whom wearing a face covering would create a risk to the person related to their work;

• Persons who are obtaining a service involving the nose or face for which temporary removal of the face covering is necessary to perform the service;

• Persons who are seated at a restaurant or other establishment that offers food or beverage service, while they are eating or drinking, provided they maintain six feet of distance between individuals; athletes who are engaged in an organized sports activity that allows athletes to maintain six feet of distance from other;

• Athletes who are engaged in an organized sports activity that allows athletes to maintain six feet of distance from others with only infrequent or incidental moments of closer proximity;

• Persons who are engaged in an activity that a professional or recreational association, regulatory entity, medical association, or other public-health-oriented entity has determined cannot be safely conducted while wearing a mask or other face covering;

• Persons engaged in a court-related proceeding held or managed by the Kansas Judiciary;

• Persons engaged in any lawful activity during which wearing a mask or other face covering is prohibited by law.

• Persons engaged in religious activities protected under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution including but not limit to worship services; however, religious institutions are strongly encouraged to maintain social distancing.

The women’s basketball game between Central Christian College and McPherson College — part of the annual Mayor’s Cup — was played Monday night, but not at the Round House as is tradition. It was instead played at Central Christian College.

The men’s basketball game will be played in January, details are still being finished. The game will not be at the Round House.

“Our plan is to return to the Round House next year,” Brown said. “We still have the CVB grant for the officiating, but it will be divided into two [nights].”