The Manhattan City Commission voted 4 to 1 Tuesday to extend the face-mask ordinance to May 16th, the end of the academic calendar at Kansas State University and USD 383.

The decision aligns the city with the Riley County Commission, who plan to include an extension of a county mask ordinance through May 16, as part of its next health order due out Thursday. Commissioner Aaron Estabrook says going forward, he’ll continue to look to county health officials for guidance on certain policies.

“Hopefully the people in Riley County, including Pottawatomie County and the City of Manhattan will also look to the health department for their health advice as those things happen between now and the summer,” he said.

Mayor Wynn Butler and commissioners Linda Morse and Usha Reddi supported the extension. Butler explained while he is not a fan of mask requirements, he voted yes because the city and county are now on the same page.

“My take, talking to a lot of the owners is they are happy with that and they are not going to get upset about the mask ordinance until the 16th of May because the economic impact was the fact that they had restrictions on the number of people that were in there,” he said.

Commissioner Mark Hatesohl, who voted no on the measure, says masks cannot stop the virus and that people can protect and treat themselves by taking vitamins and minerals.

“Instead of being worried about dying from COVID, which isn’t going to happen, let’s do what you can to make yourself a little bit healthier, boost your immune system and then nobody has to worry if somebody around them is not wearing a mask anymore because you’re safeguarded by your own immunity,” he said.

Commissioner Reddi, who has consistently voted in favor of mask policies, did so again Tuesday.

“I voted for this same option on July 9, September 8, December 2, March 2 and March 16. It’s consistent, it’s about public health and it’s the right thing to do,” she said.

The city considered deferring authority on mask policies to the county, but extending its own mandate ensures a policy will remain in place for the Pottawatomie County side of Manhattan, where no county ordinance currently exists.

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