WICHITA – Whether they want to or not, under the county and city mask mandates, businesses have to require masks for employees and customers who can’t maintain social distancing, which in some cases, is easier said than done.
Bella Vita Bistro is one of many Wichita businesses requiring all employees and customers to wear masks. Owner Lory Wooley said, for the most part, her customers have been understanding.
“I’m trying to make it so that everybody feels safe and comfortable,” said Wooley.
But unfortunately, that’s not always the case.
Some business owners say customers have been so nasty they put a sign on the front door threatening to shame anyone who refuses to wear a mask publicly.
Even Wooley said some people are more cooperative than others.
“It’s outright idiotic. I mean, how hard is it to put this on for a few minutes to go into a store out of a store,” said Wooley.
So, it begs the question, what can business owners legally do with customers who refuse to wear a face-covering?
“Under the county resolution, there is no penalty provided. However, under the city ordinance, a law enforcement officer may choose to cite that lawbreaker for not obeying the mask requirement,” said criminal defense attorney Dan Monnat.
Under the city mask ordinance, those fines are $25 for the first offense, $50 for the second and $100 after that, but Monnat said it doesn’t stop there.
“When the person refuses to wear a mask, they’re refusing to obey the law. The business owner is within his or her rights to order them to leave. If they refuse to leave and thereby interfere with the business, they may have committed the crime of criminal trespass or interference with the lawful conduct of business,” said Monnat.
As for Wooley, she hopes everyone will do their part to get us to the other side of the pandemic.
“It is a very small thing to put everybody, have everybody do it, in order to make this go away so we can have a back to normal life at some time in the future,” said Wooley.
Monnat said the best thing to do if you find yourself in this situation is to let the police take care of enforcing the law, and not to remove the person yourself with force or violence.
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