HAYS—Starting Monday, people in Hays must wear masks in public where they can’t socially distance.


The Hays City Commissioners on Thursday evening voted 4-1 to require masks after several weeks of what they’ve described as brutal agonizing.


Their choice came down to public feedback, they said, with the commissioners noting that emails, calls and public comments drove their decisions.


"What I’d really like to make clear tonight, how much I appreciate everybody coming forward and giving their opinions, whichever side it was on," said Commissioner and Vice Mayor Sandy Jacobs. "The people that did that, actually probably made the decision on this ordinance."


Jacobs, who voted in favor of masking, said "This is the most I’ve ever had anybody interact with me on anything in the city, and I’ve been on this commission four years."


Mayor Shaun Musil agreed, speaking Thursday at City Hall during the commission’s regular meeting after hearing numerous people took the microphone to comment.


"Those people that spoke out, it definitely made it easier for me," Musil said.


Masks are required starting 8 a.m. Monday until midnight Monday, Aug. 31. It applies to everyone over the age of 8. There are 10 exemptions, including for people with health conditions that prevent wearing a mask.


"I’m listening to all of you that say I need to listen to everybody in this community," Jacobs said. "I read every single email; I responded to every single email ... It was 65% in favor, and 35% against."


Just last week, Ellis County Commissioners, at their regular Monday meeting, passed on requiring masks countywide, a move the city commissioners had said the week prior they wished the county would make.