Local businesses react to Kansas mask mandate

The mask mandate will take effect in Kansas on Friday.
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PITTSBURG, Kan. – Heather Horton is the owner of TOAST in Pittsburg.

Since her business reopened, she has asked customers to wear masks when they enter the building, but stopped short of requiring them.

“We’re wearing it for you, so we ask that you wear it for us,” Horton says, “For the most part, our customers are very understanding and they feel comfortable coming here because we follow those guidelines.” 

Beginning Friday, Kansas residents will be required to wear masks in public spaces, including Hortons’ restaurant. 

“Honestly, I’m not surprised,” she adds, “At the rate things are going, they have to do something.”

The mandate has been met by skepticism from some local residents.

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“I don’t believe in it at all. I don’t believe that there’s any purpose for it,” says Pittsburg resident Jeremiah Friend, “Most of the time people aren’t wearing the right kind of masks and they’re not keeping their masks clean. If you’re not keeping your hands clean as well, and you touch something and someone else has already picked it up…you’re just giving it to another person or they’re giving it to you. It’s just a placebo effect to make others happy.”

“I worry about some of the comments of the people I’ve seen online of people saying they will shop outside of the state of Kansas,” says Lori Horton, owner of Celebrations by Lori in Pittsburg, “I don’t know if they realize the impact that can have by taking their sales tax dollars to another state just because of a mandate like this. But it’s absolutely everybody’s choice to do that.” 

For the business owners we spoke to, the most important thing right now is to keep their doors open.

“Any small step that we can take to keep our doors open, as well as other small businesses and all businesses for that matter, is a more than welcome step,” Lori finishes. 

“We don’t want to shut down again,” Heather finishes, “That’s not good for anyone. That hurts employees and that hurts the economy. So to us, it’s an easy thing to do to try to keep everything open and move forward. “

According to the CDC, “Cloth face coverings may help prevent people who have COVID-19 from spreading the virus to others. Wearing a cloth face covering will help protect people around you, including those at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 and workers who frequently come into close contact with other people (e.g., in stores and restaurants). Cloth face coverings are most likely to reduce the spread of COVID-19 when they are widely used by people in public settings. The spread of COVID-19 can be reduced when cloth face coverings are used along with other preventive measures, including social distancing, frequent handwashing, and cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces.”