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VIDEO: Rochester mask mandate takes effect Wednesday

KAAL-TV
Updated: July 06, 2020 10:39 PM
Created: July 06, 2020 05:03 PM

(ABC 6 News) - UPDATE: The Rochester City Council voted to require face masks at businesses and indoor public places Monday. 

The order takes effect Wednesday, July 8. The council voted 6-1 to approve the order signed by Mayor Kim Norton. President Randy Staver voted against the amendment. 

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The mandate applies to restaurants, bars, shops and public transportation. Masks are required in gyms if people cannot maintain their distance. 

"We don't want to punish people. This isn't what this is about. We want to open up our community to more and more people to be able to participate," Norton said.

Mayor Norton said preventative measures are key to reopen the economy and prevent another major shutdown. She said the order is also about making sure people feel safe while in public. 

"We tried to just move ahead with asking people to wear a mask. They simply didn't comply. They went back to normal behavior," Norton said. 

There are exceptions though. People can take off their masks when eating or drinking at restaurants.

Children under two-years-old or those with certain health conditions that impede them from wearing a mask are exempt as well.

Business owners must ask people to leave if they don't comply with the mandate. They may also call law enforcement for trespassing violations.

Businesses who don't follow the rule could lose their licenses if they don't follow. 

COVID-19 has spiked in dozens of states like Florida and Texas since business restrictions loosened. Younger adults are contributing to a spike in cases in the U.S., according to health officials. 

"The increases are really dramatic in some communities and we don't want to be that community," Norton said. 

The mandate lasts until Sept. 4 but can expire by council vote or state order. The order could also end if local emergency operations director in consultation with public health agencies deem it unnecessary. 

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Previous story:

The Rochester City Council has voted 6-1 to require face masks citywide, the rule will take effect on Wednesday, July 8.

People at indoor facilities and businesses must wear masks or will be asked to leave. The order states business owners can contact law enforcement for trespassing if people don’t comply.

The signed ammendment can be found here

Businesses licensed to the city can be jeopardized if owners do not comply with the order. 

Council members voted 6-1 to approve Mayor Kim Norton’s order. The mandate is in addition to the city’s emergency declaration order. 

The order could expire by council vote or if the local emergency operations director, in consultaiton with public health agencies, deems it unnecessary. It can also expire based on the timeline of Governor Tim Walz’s peacetime emergency order or the state’s decision.

Masks are also not required while eating or drinking inside establishments.

Norton said the decision to mandate face masks is a step to help reopen the economy while keeping people safe, including Rochester’s three million visitors every year.

The city putting out this press release:

On July 6, 2020, Mayor Kim Norton signed and the City Council voted to support the third amendment to the existing Emergency Declaration, requiring individuals to wear a face covering while in any indoor public space in Rochester, MN. The signed amendment can be found here and it will take effect on July 8, 2020.

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the City of Rochester has prioritized the health and safety of community members. In addition, the health and safety of patients and companions that are visiting Rochester for complex medical care is of utmost importance as well.  Medical tourism is a critical part of Rochester’s economy.   

Mayor Kim Norton states, “With infection rates on the rise locally, it’s important that we do everything we can, as a community, to keep residents and visitors safe from the COVID-19 virus.  The added benefit of protecting our businesses from another shutdown and making their environments safer for more customers makes a mask requirement the best choice right now.”

The City’s COVID-19 Information Hotline and can be reached at 507-328-2822 between 9:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. Monday - Saturday, as well as the City website focused on COVID-19 information


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