As COVID-19 restrictions begin to loosen, the statewide mask mandate has been a topic of conversation at some area city council meetings.
The topic recently gained statewide attention after the Ramsey City Council voted 4-3 to stop enforcing the statewide mask mandate.
Since July 25, 2020, people in Minnesota have been required to wear a face covering in all indoor businesses and public indoor spaces. Businesses and individuals are expected to voluntarily comply with the requirements of the executive order, but violations may result in petty misdemeanor citations or fines for people, and criminal, civil or regulatory sanctions for businesses and their owners/managers.
Circle Pines Mayor Dave Bartholomay told the City Council March 23 he heard from a resident wondering who is responsible for enforcing the mask mandate at the meeting, and asked City Administrator Patrick Antonen to weigh in.
Antonen said it is the state’s responsibility to enforce the mask mandate.
“We really encourage people to wear masks, we are not done with this yet. Please get your vaccine as soon as you can,” Bartholomay said.
Council Member Dean Goldberg, a retired pharmacist, said, “We owe it to each other to try to protect each other from this virus … Even if you get mild COVID, people are now living with long-term effects that are miserable. They are now considering COVID a chronic disease.”
He added, “We should do whatever we can to try to prevent the spread of this thing, which is spread by breathing on each other. My hope is that people will accept that duty as a good neighbor, and not worry so much about the state mandate, but it is the right thing to do to prevent the spread of the disease.”
Bartholomay said he received his first vaccine, and will soon get his second. “Wear your mask, get your vaccine,” he said. “Let’s all try to put this thing down so we can get to a pretty decent summer and a really good fall if we can continue to be careful.”
The topic also came up at the Lino Lakes City Council meeting March 22 when resident Michael Bushey spoke during open mike.
“We should have the freedoms that are given to us in the Constitution. I think if there is any way the Lino Lakes City Council could do something similar, or in any other creative way express support for that situation, I think that would be greatly appreciated by me, and it could be really beneficial,” Bushey said.
“I think we are at a different point in the pandemic than where we have been … At what point can we restore some of these freedoms that really weren’t supposed to be taken away during a pandemic?”
Mayor Rob Rafferty thanked Bushey for his comments, and the council moved on to other agenda items.
For more information on the statewide mask mandate, visit health.state.mn.us/diseases/coronavirus/facecover.html.
Lead Editor Shannon Granholm can be reached at 651-407-1227 or firstname.lastname@example.org.