Edina residents will have to wear a mask in most public places for the foreseeable future under a citywide requirement approved by the City Council on Wednesday.
Council members voted to extend a mask requirement that was recently enacted by Mayor Jim Hovland through an emergency proclamation. The revised order takes effect Thursday and will last until Dec. 31 unless Gov. Tim Walz enacts a statewide mask mandate that supersedes it, the state’s peacetime emergency declaration ends or the City Council rescinds the order.
“We need to be careful with this, and we have to do everything we can to prevent the spread of it,” Edina City Council Member Kevin Staunton said, noting that the restrictions being imposed are “very minor” given the risk of viral transmission without masks.
The length of Edina’s policy differs from other citywide orders; Winona recently announced a 30-day mask requirement, and the Mankato City Council passed an ordinance that will last for 61 days.
The Edina council action comes as the city experiences a surge in COVID-19 cases, particularly among teenagers. Children and teenagers make up Edina’s largest age group of COVID-19 cases. Overall, the city has reported 35 COVID-19 deaths and 393 cases, including 98 cases involving people 19 and younger.
“As these cases steadily climb amongst the younger members of our community … many of whom are asymptomatic, it’s really incumbent upon us even more than we thought last week to be thinking about those that are most vulnerable in our community,” Hovland said. “I think we’re doing the right thing by requiring these masks.”
Residents will have to cover their noses and mouths with a mask or face covering in most public places, including businesses and city-owned facilities.
Restaurants in the city must ensure that all customers wear a face covering when not seated at their tables. Public transportation riders must wear coverings from the time they get on a bus until they get off.
At entertainment venues, residents must wear masks when they are within 6 feet of others. They can take them off when they are seated and away from people but must put them back on when walking through public areas, the policy states.
Residents, guests and employees in multifamily housing complexes must also wear masks while in common spaces such as hallways, lobbies, restrooms, elevators and fitness rooms.
Masks will not be required inside schools, places of worship and indoor athletic facilities.
They also are not required when people are eating or drinking, for children younger than 5 or for those who have medical conditions that make it difficult to breathe.
City Council Member Mary Brindle said officials received nearly 400 e-mails from residents regarding the mask requirement. Many were supportive of the mandate, while others preferred that the city let it remain optional.
“There are few things that generate this much attention from the community,” Brindle said. “This is an important decision. It will affect how really everyone does what they do when they are out in public.”