News3 News Now Investigators


The most mask mandate complaints, but no citations: WheatFields

Posted at 6:20 PM, Nov 25, 2020
and last updated 2021-01-07 18:40:19-05

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Hundreds of mask mandate complaints have been filed against Omaha businesses. After months of not ticketing any business, the Omaha Police Department issued two citations just days after 3 News Now Investigators interviewed the police department.

UPDATE: Wheatfields gets mask mandate citation after OPD saw owner in food prep area without mask

According to OPD’s call log, WheatFields Eatery and Bakery near 103rd and Pacific Streets has received more complaints than any other business location. Eight complaints have been filed since August. Zero citations have been issued.

In most of the complaints state employees were spotted not wearing masks. 3 News Now Investigators visited, and saw the same. 3 News Now Investigator Courtney Johns called OPD’s non-emergency line, but learned they wouldn’t immediately investigate.

Instead, the operator instructed 3 News Now to contact the Mayor’s hotline, which is closed on the weekends.

Lt. John Wells said mask mandate calls come in at a “very low priority.”

“Crimes in progress, assaults in progress, things like that take higher precedence,” he said.

Lt. Wells says every time his officers have visited, WheatFields has been in compliance.

Section 12-45 of Omaha’s Mask Mandate stations businesses must have a sign “visible to all persons.” During the first three visits, 3 News Now Investigators could not find a sign requiring masks.

“It’s cluttered because they have so much stuff on the door. They were advised to maybe make it more prominent, put it in a more prominent place,” said Lt. Wells.

Shortly after talking to the owner and OPD, 3 News Now Investigators followed up and visited WheatFields a fourth time. During this visit, a sign was found clearly marked at the front entrance.

The other part of the mandate requires masks in public places when people cannot maintain six feet distance, a rule the owner was not following the two times the investigators went inside the business.

When the investigators asked the owner about not following the mandate, he told them he can’t wear it all day because he has high blood pressure, but OPD says claiming a medical exemption won’t get you out of a ticket. Lt .Wells says they’ve instructed WheatFields and several other businesses of this.

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