Throughout his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Mike Parson has stressed his belief that some decisions should be made at the local level. And as the state has reopened, mask mandates have fallen into that category.
“I do not plan to put an order in from the Governor’s Office,” Parson told reporters in early July. “Again, for people that live in those places that want to live under those guidelines, that’s their elected leaders’ decisions.”
“Every day in this press briefing we’ve told you if you cannot keep to 6 feet and social distancing, wear a mask,” Parson said. “If you feel comfortable, wear a mask. Everybody knows the situation out there, they know the risk categories right now. Everybody has to keep that in mind and move forward, but I don’t plan on mandating masks.”
As more than 44,000 Missourians having tested positive for coronavirus since March, multiple cities and counties have begun implementing or considering a mask mandate. Here’s a look at where masks are required.
Branson will begin to require individuals to wear a mask beginning July 31 through Sept. 8 after a vote by its Board of Alderman. Like many other places, some exemptions to the ordinance were accounted for in the order. Penalties include up to $100 fine or revocation of a business license.
Clay County amended its public health emergency order to allow businesses to begin operating at full capacity again as long as employees and visitors wear masks while in close proximity to other individuals. This includes stores and public transit.
A few exemptions are allowed under the order.
The Columbia City Council voted to require everyone who is at least 10 years old to wear a mask in indoor and outdoor public areas where one could come into contact with someone who isn’t a family member. Those who do not adhere to the ordinance could be fined up to $15 for an individual or $100 for a business.
The ordinance went into place on July 10.
Face coverings were required in Jackson County as of July 1 for individuals who are in public, including in workplaces or churches. Masks are required in restaurants but can be removed when a person is “actively eating or drinking.”
Johnson County began requiring individuals to wear a face covering in public settings on July 6.
Individuals in Joplin are required to wear a mask since July 11 when in public. Businesses and other public facilities must post a sign at the entrance instructing people to wear masks. The ordinance includes some exceptions, from religious reasons to health issues, but a violation of the mandate can result in a fine up to $150.
The emergency order in Kansas City requires people to wear face coverings while indoors in public places. Additionally, the June 29 directive requires employees and visitors in places of public accommodation to wear masks when social distancing is not possible.
“Our country’s leading health and scientific experts have indicated in no uncertain terms that mask-wearing is the most effective way to curb the spread of COVID-19,” Mayor Quinton Lucas said in a statement. “Case numbers in Kansas City continue to rise, and we are taking all the steps we can to ensure public health and safety.”
North Kansas City
Beginning July 2, individuals in North Kansas City were required to wear a face covering while in public places, including on public transit or to the grocery store. The directive does allow for some exceptions, such as minors, people with respiratory problems, and those who are hearing impaired.
Masks are not required while seated at a restaurant.
Beginning July 16, those in Springfield were ordered to wear a face covering while in public spaces. The ordinance is in effect until mid-October. The city council approved exemptions for wedding parties during the ceremony and photos as well as for speakers, performers, and clergy as long as they are at least 6 feet from another person.
In both the city and county of St. Louis, masks and face coverings are required in indoor and outdoor public settings as of July 3. This joint directive is effective for anyone over the age of 9 years old.
“People and businesses across the St. Louis Region have responded so well to the ongoing threat of COVID-19. Making face masks or coverings mandatory is an important step to ensure we do not go backwards as a region in the fight against this virus,” St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson said.
Cameron Gerber contributed to this report.
Kaitlyn Schallhorn is the editor of The Missouri Times. She joined the newspaper in early 2019 after working as a reporter for Fox News in New York City.
Throughout her career, Kaitlyn has covered political campaigns across the U.S., including the 2016 presidential election, and humanitarian aid efforts in Africa and the Middle East.
She is a native of Missouri who studied journalism at Winthrop University in South Carolina. She is also an alumna of the National Journalism Center in Washington, D.C.
Contact Kaitlyn at firstname.lastname@example.org.