By Sabrina Bettelry
On Sept. 11, a Kutztown Borough ordinance was issued regarding COVID-19. The ordinance is still in effect. It states that gatherings of 10 or more are not allowed, masks are to be worn at all times, individuals must stay six feet apart and people who violate this will be given a fine of between $100 and $600.
However, since the ordinance passed, no citations have been issued, according to the borough’s Open Records Officer Gabriel Khalife.
“Gathering limitations in the state were ruled unconstitutional about a week later, so Council rescinded that portion of the ordinance, so no citations were written as a result,” said Kutztown Chief of Police Craig Summers. The rule about gatherings no longer applies to the ordinance, so no citations can be given on gathering violations.
What about mask-wearing? Summers said that warnings may have been issued for violating this rule, but no citations were mentioned.
When prompted why citations were not given, Summers explained a few reasons, including the District Attorney believing they should not be enforcing the state face mask mandate and that the ordinance may or may not be unconstitutional.
They cannot give citations to those in physical activity, meaning people walking and not wearing masks is not an excuse to fine someone.
He also said that as a small college town, most students are out of town and therefore can avoid a fine by claiming they are from out of town and were not aware of this ordinance, and in general, most new laws have a grace period of 90 days.
However, despite the reasonings, many KU students say this isn’t enough to protect students and citizens.
“The lack of citations will only make people take the ordinance, and therefore wearing masks, less seriously,” said Samson Romano, a freshman at KU.
A sophomore student, Julia Yaniger, said, “I [want to] believe the fact that no citations have been given out is a positive thing, but I highly doubt no one has broken the rules this semester.”
Every student interviewed claimed they’ve seen many people break this rule on and off-campus and even claimed to see police and public safety officers violating it. Another student, Brook Nuskey, said they’ve seen people pulling down their masks in the dining hall.
When asked if this ordinance potentially helped lower cases at KU, many interviewed said they don’t think that’s the case.
“Well, the fact no fines have been given out suggests otherwise. Plus, a lot of students went home by mid-September, and most classes are online, so most people I know don’t even leave their rooms,” said Yaniger.
As of November, cases on the KU campus have risen to the twenties before gradually decreasing again. By Nov. 25, all on-campus residents left the university for the rest of the term, and nobody can come back until late January for the spring semester.