DULUTH – City councils in Cloquet and Superior, Wis., on Tuesday passed ordinances requiring the use of face masks in public places to help curb the spread of COVID-19.
In Minnesota, more than a dozen cities now have rules requiring masks. Gov. Tim Walz said Tuesday that he is still working with health officials to decide whether to roll out a statewide mask mandate.
Across the border, Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers said it’s “unlikely” he will issue such an order after the state Supreme Court struck down his stay-at-home order in a May ruling that said the governor overstepped his authority.
“I think this is the best thing we can do for the health and well-being of our residents at this time,” Cloquet Mayor Roger Maki said at Tuesday’s meeting.
Cloquet’s council voted 5-2 to approve its ordinance, and Superior’s measure passed 9-1. Opponents on both governing bodies expressed concerns about enforcement and putting more stress on already suffering businesses.
Superior’s rule will take effect July 27 and continue until Sep. 25 or whenever the city’s state of emergency expires. Children younger than age 5, people with medical conditions and those practicing religious activities are among the groups exempted from the resolution.
Individuals who refuse to wear masks could be found in violation of Superior trespassing statutes, and businesses that do not comply could lose licenses or grants from the city for a year.
The Cloquet measure will go into effect Aug. 1 and lasts until Walz ends his local emergency declaration. The rule does not apply to children under the age of 10, and violators could face fines or misdemeanor prosecution.
“This enforcement piece needs to be voluntarily followed by both the public and businesses,” said Tim Peterson, Cloquet’s city administrator. “The police department, honest to goodness, needs to be the last resort here.”