Community members react to mask mandate

Reaction from community members has been mixed after Mayor Emily Larson announced she is using emergency powers to bring back the city’s mask mandate. The mandate will go into effect on Friday, January 14, and last for 30 days.

WDIO spoke to a number of businesses after the announcement, and very few were willing to speak publicly about the decision. Several say it’s a very controversial topic. One business owner said he supported the idea, but wished to remain anonymous.

“I think it’s a good idea that there seems to be a surge in COVID,” he said. “I think that the masks are our best way of preventing the spread whether someone is vaccinated or not.”

The owner said all of his customers have complied with wearing a mask in the store before. He thinks they will continue complying now that masks are mandated.

Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce President Matt Baumgartner said he has heard from businesses who are concerned about their ability to enforce the policy, and he is concerned about the responsibility of enforcement falling to businesses and frontline staff.

“The brunt of public opinion will fall to the front line employees and there is a concern there too,” Baumgartner said in a written statement. “Yet, I respect that the Mayor has the ability to make decisions during emergent times such as the ongoing pandemic.”

Baumgartner said the Chamber has “deep appreciation and gratitude” for health care providers and encouraged everyone to do their part to get through this challenging time.