MANHATTAN (KSNT) – The City of Manhattan announced Thursday that all visitors and city staff will be required to wear a mask while indoors at all city-operated facilities.

City of Manhattan officials said the mask requirement will go into effect starting Monday, Dec. 27, for anyone visiting facilities being operated by the city. The requirement is in place for all individuals two years of age or older. Both vaccinated and unvaccinated need to wear masks.

The decision to reinstate a mask requirement was made by City Manager Ron Fehr in response to CDC and Riley County Health Department recommendations.

“The Omicron variant is surging across the country as well as being more prevalent in Kansas, which is putting a strain on local hospitals and medical providers,” Fehr said. “Holiday gatherings and upcoming News Years events are likely to lead to even more spread.”

The masking requirement extends to indoor, city-operated facilities only. According to the City of Manhattan, private businesses and other properties not owned by the city can decide whether or not to require masks.

The city gave the following list of places where its new rule applies:

  • City Hall  
  • Municipal Court  
  • Douglass Recreation Complex  
  • Anthony & Eisenhower Recreation Centers
  • Flint Hills Discovery Center  
  • Indoor areas of Sunset Zoo  
  • T. Russell Reitz Animal Shelter  

The city manager gave an example of a recent situation that helped influence their decision to bring the mask requirement back.

“Recently, it was necessary to close the Animal Shelter due to COVID-19 exposure and an inability to have enough employees to keep the facility open to the public,” Fehr said. “Thus, we need to do what we can to reduce the spread, make sure the City workforce can continue to provide essential services, keep our public facilities open, and help prevent the local medical community from being overwhelmed. I encourage community members to get vaccinated if they haven’t already, and receive a booster if eligible.”  

The Manhattan Regional Airport will continue to follow federal laws requiring masks for everyone at airports. Signs will also be posted at the entrance to each city facility and masks will be available upon request.

City administration will evaluate the situation weekly based upon CDC and RCHD information and any impacts to city operations. Future changes to city mask requirements will be posted at building entrances.

The last time the City of Manhattan implemented a mask requirement was in August this year with another requirement being put in place around this time last year.

For more information about the City of Manhattan and its health requirements, visit their website here.