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Duluth passes mask rule


July 17, 2020

The Duluth City Council passed an emergency ordinance Monday night requiring masks in many indoor public spaces, joining a growing list of Minnesota cities that have passed similar measures to try to slow the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Duluth’s requirement, which went into effect immediately, applies to “spaces of public accommodation,” including retail stores, restaurants, churches, government buildings, skywalks and buses.

It provides several exemptions, including for children under 10, people who are unable to wear face coverings for genuine medical reasons, and for businesses not open to customers that can provide for six feet of public distance between employees.

Education, child care and fitness facilities with written plans in compliance with state guidelines are also exempt from the ordinance.

Council member Arik Forsman, who co-sponsored the measure, acknowledged that there was public opposition to the requirement.

“There are folks who don’t like that this action is being proposed, to put it politely,” he said, adding that he recognizes that wearing a mask is uncomfortable and hot.

But “the science is pretty clear,” he said. “This can help save lives.”

Forsman and other councilors said the ordinance is intended to not only protect public health, but also to protect local businesses.

Council member Terese Tomanek, who also co-sponsored the measure, said several businesses pleaded with her to require masks, to help them stay open and lessen the risk of having to endure another shutdown.

Tomanek and Forsman cited surveys from the Duluth Chamber of Commerce and Greater Downtown Council, which found that about two-thirds of businesses supported the mask requirement.

Tomanek said wearing a mask is a “kindness” that we do for others. “It is not a political issue, it’s a public health issue. It’s a ‘taking care of each other’ issue. It’s a ‘keeping our businesses open’ issue. It is a ‘safety of our community’ issue.”


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