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Leaders & community members weigh in on mask ordinance

Emily Ness
Updated: July 12, 2020 11:24 PM

No shirt, no shoes and if approved Monday, no mask may mean no service in Duluth.

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This is because the the City of Duluth is expected to vote on a controversial ordinance that would require masks in most indoor spaces.

The proposed mask ordinance has strong support from Mayor Emily Larson and a number of city councilors.

Councilor Joel Sipress said he wants to do his part to protect public health during the pandemic by voting in favor of the ordinance Monday.

“If we were to have an outbreak, there would be great human suffering and enormous damage to our local economy and so we have an obligation as a community to take those steps we can to reduce the risk of that happening,” Sipress said.

Councilor Derek Medved also expressed support for the ordinance, saying that he wanted to protect his community, his employees and vulnerable populations.

“For me as a council member, as a business owner, as someone in the community, I have a family member that has cancer and so when we’re focused through the health lens or perspective, my vote will be yes to support this because health is important. You know, the good old saying: ‘If you don’t have your health, you don’t have anything," Medved said.

The proposed mask ordinance would have exceptions for people who are medically unable to tolerate masks and for children ten and under.

Additionally, masks would not be required at restaurants where people are eating or schools, child care and fitness facilities with plans for compliance.

In addition to councilors, some community members say they are also on board.

“I think masks are definitely an important thing to be wearing, even if you’re going to go to a grocery store real quick,” Andrea Macias said. “Even if you don’t have it (COVID-19), there are still very high risks if you’re not wearing your mask.”

Others said wearing masks should be voluntary rather than mandatory because not everyone has access to masks and not everyone can wear masks due to medical conditions, but declined to do an interview.

Across the bridge, the City of Superior will also meet on Monday to discuss a mask ordinance

That ordinance would require masks in indoor public areas and while using any public transportation, unless exempted.

If passed, it would take effect July 27th and continue until September 25th or until the city's state of emergency expires.

Councilor Jenny Van Sickle expressed support for the ordinance, saying that the community’s response has been primarily positive, however, there has been some opposition that they will address at their meeting Monday.

“The City Council in Superior is a pretty well balanced group of folks and I don’t think there’s any one person dancing around excited to have to do this, but we’re in a position now where we are in a nationally recognized spike in Douglass County. We’ve got to step up,” Van Sickle said.

Councilor Craig Sutherland also expressed support for the ordinance, saying that the longer we can practice safety measures, the shorter the pandemic could last.

“I think what this resolution does is it sends a message to the public that encourages it (Wearing a mask). That’s great and I think we should do that. No shoes, no shirts, no service. If we’ve got to have a mask on for a couple months to help us live a little bit longer, let’s do it,” Sutherland said.

The vote for Duluth’s proposed mask ordinance will take place Monday. If approved, warning letters, escalating fines and misdemeanor prosecution would be on the table for businesses or members of the public who choose not to comply with the policy.

Further information on Superior's proposed mask ordinance will be available after their meeting Monday.

Credits

Emily Ness

Copyright 2020 WDIO-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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