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Duluth Council approves mask requirement ordinance

Ryan Juntti
Updated: July 14, 2020 02:19 PM

The Duluth City Council on Monday night unanimously passed a controversial ordinance requiring the use of masks in most indoor public places.

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The ordinance will go into effect immediately. It requires masks be worn where business with the public is done, or anywhere public services are given, including churches and non-profit organizations.

Common areas of multi-tenant residences, such as an apartment building, or lodging establishment, such as a hotel, motel, or vacation rental are included in the ordinance. Private rooms in such establishments are not included in the ordinance.

There are exemptions for people who are medically unable to tolerate face coverings and children under 10.

Councilor Arik Forsman says if someone needs a reasonable accommodation for the masks due to a medical reason, they should work with the businesses. Forsman says face shields are also included in the ordinance to help accommodate this. 

Additionally, masks are not required at restaurants where people are eating as well as schools, child care, and fitness facilities with plans for compliance.

The ordinance, brought forth by Duluth councilors Forsman, Janet Kennedy, Joel Sipress, and Terese Tomanek, has drawn mixed reactions from community members.

"It’s one thing that individuals can do for other people is to where a mask, especially in indoor space,” said Brad Jenson of Duluth.

Jenson supports the ordinance saying he thinks it will help slow the spread of the virus.

“When space is shared indoors, that’s where I think it’s more of a responsibility,” Jenson said. “I think it’s going to be good for the city, and good for the citizens of Duluth, and good for visitors that come to our city if people are expected to wear masks in indoor facilities,” he added.

But not everyone thinks the decision should be left to the city.

“I think it’s a little bit of a stretch to enforce that on the citizens as they go in and out of the stores," said Robert Binns who is opposed to the ordinance.

Instead, Binns says he thinks it should be up to businesses as to whether they want to enforce a mask policy.

He adds the City of Duluth should wait for Governor Walz's decision about whether to enforce a statewide mask policy before deciding what to do.

"If a shop owner wants to mandate a mask requirement in their facility, that’s perfectly fine. But for the city to go ahead and jump the gun before the governor has made a decision on what "One Minnesota" should do as we've heard Governor Walz saying, I think they just need to pump the brakes on that," said Binns.

The ordinance was originally announced on July 1. Forsman says one of the reasons he didn't introduce it sooner was because it came clear to him as more studies have been done that masks are effective against COVID-19.

He also says southern states experiencing a "second wave" inspired him to pursue the ordinance to protect Duluthians.

The council also passed a resolution Monday night imposing fines for businesses who don't comply with the mask ordinance.

  • First offense: $100
  • Second offense: $250
  • Third offense: $1,000
  • Subsequent: $1,000

Forsman says citizens "can and will be trespassed" if they choose not to comply. That can then include fines, and misdemeanor criminal charges.

Credits

Ryan Juntti

Copyright 2020 WDIO-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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