Mayor Norton brings back mask requirement as COVID-19 cases surge again

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(ABC 6 News) – Rochester Mayor Kim Norton signed a Declaration of Local Emergency Tuesday morning, requiring masks again.

Effective immediately, masks will be required in all indoor public settings where medically vulnerable people and children under the age of 12 may be present.

Masking will remain in place until Friday morning unless the City Council approves a resolution to extend it when it meets on Friday.

"Moving beyond strongly recommend tor really saying it’s required to protect people," Mayor Kim Norton said. "So we have moved to required because we are now in the severe and high category and it looks like we’ll be there for some weeks ahead."

Norton declared a local emergency at Monday night’s City Council meeting as COVID-19 case numbers are on the rise again.

"My hope is that our downtown area, which always has catered to Mayo Clinic’s medically fragile patients, will continue to and maybe increase their use of masks," Norton said.

She is hoping we can "just kind of move back into that kind of uncomfortable but place we were a year ago where in the winter when we’re indoors we just wear our masks just to protect each other."

Norton says the main goal here is to keep people from getting sick as Rochester is already seeing some businesses closing their doors because of employees testing positive for the virus.

For places like gyms and bars, things may stay somewhat the same.

"Adults, most of whom in this county are vaccinated, can make that decision themselves whether they feel safe and allow them that flexibility," Norton said.

But where children under 12 are present is where the masks will need to stay on, such as big-box stores, daycares, schools and children’s museums. Norton said the city is standing with Rochester Public Schools.