The city of Wichita will allow a local mask ordinance to expire as of midnight, October 21st.

The city council did not take action to renew the ordinance, but the city will continue to follow Sedgwick County’s emergency order that calls for residents to wear masks in all public places, including all city facilities.

The city will close its mask hotline and email service.

Sedgwick County will be under a new health order as of October 22nd that still requires masks in public places, but it will allow schools to have the option of not requiring masks for kindergarten students.   The order from Dr. Garold Minns, the county’s health officer, also allows bars, nightclubs and other businesses licensed to sell alcohol for on-premises consumption to stay open until 1 a.m.

County commissioner Jim Howell wants some changes in the health order to provide a mask exemption for first grade students and youngsters age 6 and under.  He also wants to go ahead and allow bars and nightclubs to stay open until 2 a.m.    He made a motion at Wednesday’s commission meeting to make those changes, but commissioners voted to send them to Dr. Minns for input.

Howell believes the county should go ahead and allow bars to stay open until the state-mandated closing time of 2 a.m. to avoid any potential lawsuits.   A bar owner in Lawrence is suing Douglas County over health restrictions.   Sedgwick County counselor Mike Pepoon cautioned against putting too much weight on the lawsuit, saying that Douglas County is strongly defending the local health order.   Pepoon said the case has not been decided and Sedgwick County officials should wait and see what the outcome is before taking any action.