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Kansas City Health Department Shuts Down U-Haul Store After It Defies Mayor’s Mask Order

Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas is asking districts, charters and private schools to delay opening building until after Labor Day as the coronavirus continues to spread.
City of Kansas City
Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas is asking districts, charters and private schools to delay opening building until after Labor Day as the coronavirus continues to spread.

For just the second time, the Kansas City Health Department has shut down a business for failing to comply with the mayor’s emergency pandemic order.

The department on Tuesday suspended the occupancy certificate of the U-Haul store on 11827 Blue Ridge Blvd after complaints that employees and customers were not wearing masks.

After receiving a second complaint, the department sent staff to the store, and the manager and employees “pretty much told us to go jump in the lake, we will not wear a mask,” said Naser Jouhari, the health department’s environmental health services division manager.

Jouhari said the store’s response to the order was basically “to tell us that this whole thing is a joke. We will not follow the mayor’s order.”

Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas’ order mandates that all employees and visitors to businesses “must properly wear a face covering or mask” while indoors.

Aaron Krueger, U-Haul's Southern Kansas president, said in an email that the company has been in touch with the city "regarding the actions of some of its Team Members at the Truman Corners location" and has submitted a "comprehensive compliance plan on behalf of the store."

"We have taken steps internally to ensure that all current mandates are met here, and at all U-Haul moving and storage facilities," Krueger said. "As an essential service provider, and a part of Kansas City’s critical infrastructure, our mission is to serve the communities in which we operate in the safest and most effective manner possible.”

He added that the city has given permission to U-Haul to continue operating at the store's outside lot.

We have enforced Mayor @QuintonLucasKC's Emergency Order and suspended their certificate of occupancy. pic.twitter.com/3At11vL6Ck— KCMO Health Dept (@KCMOHealthDept) August 19, 2020

Although this was the first instance of the health department suspending a business’ occupancy certificate for failure to observe the mayor's order, in early July it suspended the health permit of Los Corrals, a Mexican restaurant located downtown at 408 W. 9th Street.

The restaurant was forced to close. It has since reopened after agreeing to comply with the mayor’s order.

Jouhari said the complaints about the U-Haul location were among 2,500 the department has received since Lucas issued an emergency order in March to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus. Lucas last week extended the order until Jan. 16, 2021, after consulting with the health department.

As of today, the health department is reporting 7,719 lab-confirmed coronavirus cases and 87 deaths. The two-week positive test rate stands at 10.25%.

In the metropolitan area as a whole, the number of cases exceeds 26,000.

If the U-Haul store wishes to reopen, Jouhari said it will have to submit a plan in writing for complying with the mayor's order.

“Our goal here is not to put them out of business,” he said. “Our goal is just to get them to comply.”

Copyright 2021 KCUR 89.3. To see more, visit KCUR 89.3.

Dan was born in Brooklyn, N.Y. and moved to Kansas City with his family when he was eight years old. He majored in philosophy at Washington University in St. Louis and holds law and journalism degrees from Boston University. He has been an avid public radio listener for as long as he can remember – which these days isn’t very long… Dan has been a two-time finalist in The Gerald Loeb Awards for Distinguished Business and Financial Journalism, and has won multiple regional awards for his legal and health care coverage. Dan doesn't have any hobbies as such, but devours one to three books a week, assiduously works The New York Times Crossword puzzle Thursdays through Sundays and, for physical exercise, tries to get in a couple of rounds of racquetball per week.