City Commission ends face covering ordinance

Meghan Flynn
Garden City Telegram
Local businesses are encouraging patrons to either wear masks or require them to, such as The Corner on Main, left, and Ascension Via Christi Home Medical, both next door to each other in the 300 block of N. Main Street. The City Commission voted Tuesday to not renew the mask mandate.

The Garden City Commission voted to not extend the citywide face covering ordinance at its regular meeting Tuesday.

The commission voted 4-1 to end the ordinance, with Commissioner Deb Oyler dissenting.

The ordinance was put into effect to help combat the spread of COVID-19 in the community and has been in effect since the Nov. 17 regular commission meeting.

It was designed to either expire after 30 days or to be extended for an additional 30 days by a majority vote of the governing body prior to expiration.

It was extended for additional 30-day periods on Dec. 15, Jan. 5 and Feb. 2.

Commissioner Shannon Dick said the reason he voted to not extend the ordinance is that he feels that while there still is a health emergency, it's not to the level anymore that requires an ordinance.

"We need to be wearing masks all the time, we need to be doing the washing of our hands, social distancing, proper nutrition, stuff like that, but does it come to the level of needing an ordinance to do that?" he said. "I don't think we have that at this (time)."

Commissioner Manny Ortiz said that when the ordinance was put into place the commission said there would be an end, and the time to end it is now.

"We said that we would re-look at it when the numbers were down, when the numbers were in good standings, and here we are," he said. "I don't feel like we should put an ordinance in place or make this a law for people, for citizens here in Garden City. ... We just want to be good stewards and follow what we think is our best way that we can offer to keep each other safe."

Commissioner Deb Oyler believes the ordinance should still be in place to keep the COVID-19 case numbers low, to avoid the possibility of case numbers spiking again.

"I think the reason why we're down on those levels is because we've had these safeguards in place, but at the same time too, if we don't have this ordinance then we start seeing a spike in cases and we have to now say, 'Well, now the mask ordinance in back in effect,' " she said. "I think about for continuity and just for consistency sake, we should keep it for a little while longer."