What Happens if You’re Caught Not Wearing Your Mask

Well it appears not much will happen to you if you’re caught not wearing your mask in accordance with Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly’s newly issued order that goes into effect on July 3.  According to a memorandum issued today by Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt, violation of the mask order is not a crime but a civil violation that is not enforceable by law enforcement officers. 

According to Schmidt’s memo, a law enforcement officer “may not arrest a person for violating the Mask Order, nor may an officer conduct an investigative stop to enforce the Mask Order, and no statute authorizes a law enforcement officer to issue a citation or to take any similar action for violation of the Mask Order.”

The governor’s latest executive order is the first issued since the Kansas Legislature adopted House Bill 2016 on June 4, with any enforceable actions.   According to Schmidt, HB2016, which reduced the power of the governor’s  issued emergency orders, reduced violations of any of her orders from a Class A misdemeanor to a civil violation, which may be enforced by a lawsuit filed by the county or district attorney. 

The Mask Order now can only be civilly enforced in a manner much more similar to civil abatement of a common nuisance or to the Kansas Consumer Protection Act and not as crimes. In general, citizens who violate the Mask Order may be subject to civil penalty or injunction related to their behavior only after a judge has entered an order to that effect in an enforcement lawsuit filed by the county or district attorney.

HB2016 also allows county commissions, to issue an order that is less stringent than that issued by the governor, if they find the governor’s executive order is “Not necessary to protect the public health and safety of the county.” 

Check to see if your county has issued an order less restrictive than the governor’s. 

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