York can impose fines for those who don’t comply with mask mandate

York Chief of Police: We won't become the "mask police."

YORK, Neb. (KLKN) – York’s new mask mandate has some people wondering what police enforcement of the mandate will look like.

“Some people are just going to plain forget,” says Ken Alley, who owns a used book store in York. “I can walk down to the post office and say, ‘Oh no, I forgot my mask.’ Some people are just hard heads and aren’t going to do it.”

The mandate took effect on Monday, Nov. 30 and will remain in place until at least Jan. 15, 2021. It requires citizens to wear masks in public indoor places. Failure to comply can result in a $25 fine on first offense. However, the York Police Department says the ordinance is not nearly as draconian as it may seem.

“A lot of it for us is that we’re going to keep doing it the same way we have been,” York Police Chief Ed Tjaden said. “My staff has been doing a great job of using the proper amount of discretion. Other cities have gone a little harsher so I like the fact that we took this light approach. It gives us some teeth for us if need be in really egregious cases, but overall, I think people are going to comply and I think we’ll be alright.”

An example of an “egregious case” could be a large party with hundreds of people or an instance where citizens knowingly and deliberately violate the mandate. Tjaden says that people who forget their mask going to the grocery or who host small family gatherings should not be worried about being in violation. As he puts it, the York Police Department will not suddenly turn into the “mask police” because of the mandate.

“We do a lot of educating, warning, reminding, that kind of thing,” Tjaden said. “We want to handle it with as light a touch as possible and keep our community relationship intact, so that’s our goal.”

Categories: Nebraska News, York