Updated: July 15, 2020 04:35 PM
Created: July 14, 2020 08:19 PM
(ABC 6 News) - People around the world have shared their thoughts on being required to wear face coverings during the pandemic. Now in Rochester, it is required, and non-compliance can result in consequences.
"Most people are doing pretty well with putting signage out but they're a little leery about actually stopping someone and saying would you please wear a mask," said Mayor Kim Norton, but she also said business owners should move past that fear for the sake of the entire community.
With the recent launch of the mandate, businesses are being asked to require and even provide masks to customers to enter their establishment. If businesses do not enforce the masks, their city licenses could be at risk.
"To be clear, our goal is not to use this as enforcement but rather talk to these businesses, and educate them about why masking is so important," said Councilman Michael Wojcik.
For individual people in the community who do not wear a mask when they enter a building or public transit, they can be asked to leave. If they still refuse to put on a mask or leave the establishment they can be considered trespassing by Law enforcement.
That's where the City's COVID-19 hotline comes in. The line is operated by Rochester Public Library personnel. It was created in March as a way for people in the community to call in and ask COVID-19 related questions. Recently, it evolved to take calls about businesses or people not following Rochester's recent mask mandate. Once the information is documented, Rochester Mayor Kim Norton said that information is passed along to public health. The hotline number is 507-328-2822.
"The reason we set that up is because we were getting so many calls related to COVID-19 that it was sometimes overwhelming to 911 calls so we tried to direct them to a different place," said Wojcik.
The line can be used to ask questions about COVID-19, share concerns about health, and to report non-compliance.
Mayor Norton and other council members have shared that they do not want to punish businesses or criminalize the community for not wearing a mask, but they saw a need to require masks.
Norton said she's hoping that businesses will do their part by providing masks to their customers without them, while Wojcik subtly agreed by saying that it's a business's responsibility to enforce the community to wear masks when entering their establishments.
The mandate has a potential end date in September but it can end sooner, or even be extended depending on the impact of COVID.
For information on Rochester's mask mandate, click here.
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