Kent City Council held a zoom meeting Wednesday night that was broadcasted live on the City of Kents YouTube channel. The council had multiple matters to discuss, including the passing of a city ordinance to vacate a paper street in Kent, however much of the discussion consisted of covid-19 regulations.
The meeting opened with a statement from a local resident. In her statement, the resident explained how in her apartment complex residents mostly consist of Kent State undergrads and grad students, disabled people, and the elderly. She then when on to discuss how residents of the building, particularly student residents, have not been following mask guidelines set by the apartment complex. She explained that residents are always expected to wear masks when in the building, and that this lack of enforcement of the policy makes it unsafe for the disabled and elderly residents. She finished her statement with a call to action for the council to greater enforce punishments for non-compliance with the mask mandate set in Kent.
After quickly discussing old business, the committee moved on to the statement made by the resident speaker. One of the problems brought to the committees attention was landlords’ compliance with the mask mandate. This is because there is not a fine associated with the mandate.
Committee member Heidi Shaffer had this to say on the matter: “I think it would be helpful to also refer to community development, you know, to talk to the landlords and make sure that they know that this is a law. I mean, we have a mask mandate, but do not have big fines associated with it yet. I think it is incumbent upon them to enforce it. Just like the grocery stores are doing and the bars are doing. And I think that we’ve seen a lot of compliance in other places of business and we need to think of the rental housing as a place of business.”
Roger Sidoti, another member of the council presented a problem with the prospect of enforcing fines on people without masks.
“We can pass all the mandates we want, but if there are enforcements and people still aren’t following the mandate, then the question is: does it do any good?” said Sidoti. “I think that’s the first issue. I would say the second issue is that in a place like where she’s talking about, the person that needs to be held accountable is the management of the place. Just like I would be held accountable for the four people in one of my duplexes to make sure that they’re complying. It’s that manager that needs to be helped if they have signs up and they’re not enforcing it, it’s not the cities job to go into it in my opinion.”
The council seemed to have similar opinions on the matter itself, but with differing opinions on how it should be handled, and what level of involvement the city should take in enforcing mask mandates in residencies.