Kansas governor Laura Kelly says she will issue an executive order this week requiring all residents to wear face masks in public to protect against the coronavirus.
The governor made the announcement at a news conference Monday and said more guidelines will be released on Thursday. The mask order will go into effect at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, July 3rd.
The governor said when the pandemic first hit, there were mixed messages about masks, but now the message is clear. She said wearing a mask is safe and it will be necessary to avoid another shutdown. She said the state has 101 active clusters of COVID-19, but no clusters have been reported at businesses where masks are required. She said there have been clusters at public gatherings where masks are not being worn.
Kelly said, “If we want a healthy Kansas economy, we need healthy businesses and healthy Kansans.” She said the mask order will not affect where people can go or what they can do, it just means if they are around other people, they must wear masks. She said if you are outside but cannot maintain a social distancing of six feet, you should wear a mask.
The governor said as coronavirus cases continue to rise, “masks are our best defense to keep Kansans at work, to get our kids back to school, and to keep ourselves and our neighbors healthy.” She said the mandate is starting Friday to give businesses time to prepare and time to acquire masks.
The governor said the order will have to be presented to legislative leaders serving under the state finance council.
Kansas Senate president Susan Wagle of Wichita issued a statement in response to the governor’s announcement:
“Once again, a one size fits all order doesn’t work for our diverse state. She’s inconsistent in her direction, one day giving authority to local government and the next taking it back, causing total confusion. This Governor’s focus must remain on fixing our record-breaking budget shortfall rather than diverting attention away from the letter she received today from our Attorney General stating that her budget plan violates Kansas statutes. Governor Kelly should focus on doing her job of managing her agencies, and allow the local officials to do theirs.”