MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) — After weeks of talks and debating, the Mankato City Council passed the ordinance requiring masks while in indoor public spaces, which becomes effective Friday.
The emergency ordinance requires individuals over the age of 13 to wear masks in these settings, with exemptions to indoor athletic facilities, movie theaters and entertainment venues.
Polls conducted by the City of Mankato and Greater Mankato Growth show that the public is split on the decision, while most businesses felt the ordinance infringed on their business.
Before the city council made their decision, the public weighed-in the ordinance.
”If those who are on the city council that own businesses are adamant that they [masks] should be required, I question them if they require them right now,” said Dar Colehow Vosburg, a Mankato business owner. “I do know that if this ordinance passes, my tenant that is in my office said she would move out and rent elsewhere. Masks other than the M-95 masks, when fitted properly, have not been proven to prevent viruses.“
”We need to understand that this is still a developing situation. It is still a pandemic with no cure and no vaccine. Dr. Fauci just told us today that we are knee-deep in the first wave of this pandemic. It is unprecedented and stopping it will take unprecedented measures,“ stated Matt Rightmire, a professor at Gustavus Adolphus College.
”My friends that own other businesses that want to have masks in their businesses, if they don’t have back-up from you, as the city council, they won’t be able to enforce it themselves,” business owner Megan Dell said. “I will also not be shopping in any store in Mankato that does not require a mask. I feel like if my kids do not go back to school this fall, that’s going to limit my ability to work.”
The ordinance also imposes a $100 fine on those who do not comply with the ordinance while in public and a $200 fine on businesses that don’t enforce it.
The question arose as to how local law enforcement would enforce the measure.
”Already you’ve got the police force with bad names on them right now - and I support them - but you’re really going to strain them and you’re really going to put a bad name on them if you pass this. I for one will shop at other cities or other states if I have to,“ business owner Nick Zuehlke said.
”The criminalization of an illness and transmission has only ever had devastating effects on those most vulnerable to the law such as black people, immigrants and queer and transgender folks. So establishing a fine of not wearing a mask will most definitely disproportionately affect those that are poor. I do hope that you guys reconsider this ordinance and as opposed to criminalizing the mask mandate, we should make masks free, widely available and encourage public spaces to give them out to people who do not have access to it,” Anisa Omar commented.
The ordinance will go into effect Friday and expire after 61 days. More answers to frequently asked questions can be found below or by visiting the City of Mankato’s website.