Joplin officials weigh in on enforcement of mask mandate

JOPLIN, Mo. – Joplin’s mask mandate has been in effect for just a few days, but it’s got some wondering, just how it can be enforced and is that enforcement is enough?

The Joplin mask mandate is an ordinance with specific guidelines to whom it applies, what the exemptions are, and how it can be enforced. Mayor Ryan Stanley says “If you read the mask ordinance, we have quite a few options, we have a very strong and very professional health department and we have a very strong and professional police department and I would hope that we can just lean in to a common sense of Joplin, Missouri and Southwest Missouri and say ‘let’s all just read the ordinance and adopt it accordingly.”

Mayor Ryan Stanley says he knows there will be some push back, not just by residents, but by business owners as well. “We’re going to have some businesses that will be harder to convince to comply and we had that with the last mask ordinance and we met those challenges first with education, second with healthy encouragement, but we certainly have the ability to fine and restrict as needed, I don’t think that we will need to, but at the same time we’re fully committed and capable of enforcing this ordinance.”

Joplin resident Joshua Shackles, who advocated for the mandate, says he feels the enforcement options are appropriate. “I really think that it’s a great compromise that they’ve come up with where it is an enforceable mandate and will have an effect on our situation in the area but it’s also not so restrictive that it takes away people’s personal freedoms.”

Mayor Stanley says it really falls back on the businesses, as the majority of the mandate applies to them. “So our accountability is going to come first to the businesses, are you doing what we asked you to do, and really it’s mainly just posting the sign, if businesses want the police to partner with them and if they have a challenge with a patron, the police will absolutely respond to that, the businesses do have the ability to request that support.”

We did reach out to Captain Will Davis at the Joplin Police Department who responded by saying quote “our primary goal is educating the public on the ordinance. Our goal with this has not changed from the last time the city enacted this ordinance. We feel the ordinance is very clear”.