Local man planning ‘mask-less’ protest this weekend

Local News

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – A local man is planning a protest without masks at local grocery stores this weekend. He believes wearing a mask isn’t a science, which is against local health officials.

But if you violate the local health order in Shawnee County, it could cost a $2,500 fine. Masks are required in certain public places where you can’t social distance. A mask mandate went into effect in Shawnee County on July 9. It states that you must where a mask indoors and outdoors when unable to social distance from others.

The planned protest is already getting a lot of attention online. Jason Harpe, the organizer, wants people to show up to Topeka grocery stores without their masks this weekend. KSNT News tried to get ahold of Harpe, but were only able to speak with a family member over the phone, who declined to comment.

Harpe wants supporters to come to the Walmart off of Wanamaker Road at 1 p.m. and the nearby Aldi at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, October 31.

KSNT News also called both businesses to see what they will do if the protest happens, but Walmart didn’t answer and Aldi said it would take a couple of days to get back with us.

But the Shawnee County Health Department said organized events like this one, might be due to “mask fatigue.”

“The health community is feeling it just as much as our community as a whole,” said Craig Barnes, the Community Health Outreach and Planning Division Manager for the department.

Not everyone in the community is suffering from the so-called “mask fatigue” though.

Jim Henry, who lives in Topeka, said he believes wearing a mask is about much more than just yourself.

“I think it’s really just a sign of respect for other people,” Henry said. “Whether you believe in the dangers or not.”

That’s just one of the reasons he said he wears a mask. Another, is because it’s a health order that is still in effect in Shawnee County.

“It’s one of the best ways to really protect our most at risk populations in our community,” Barnes said. “And so it’s important to wear your mask wash your hands and watch your distance because that will be the avenues that keep us from moving in the wrong direction.”

Barnes said he reached out to businesses in the county to make sure they are aware the “mask-less” might happen.

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