The Mankato City Council will hold a special meeting Monday to consider an emergency ordinance requiring face coverings in places of public accommodation.

Late last month, two Mankato bars were identified as COVID-19 hot spots by the Minnesota Department of Health. More than 100 people were infected after visiting either the 507 or Rounders Sports Bar & Grill, health officials said.

The draft ordinance would require cloth face coverings be worn by everyone over the age of 2 in a wide range of public settings, including retail and dining establishments, government buildings, service businesses and recreational facilities.

Some places are exempt, such as movie theaters and fitness centers, but in all cases, users and owners are required to follow federal guidelines on social distancing and hygiene.

John Reinan


Hiking association names new director

The Superior Hiking Trail Association is getting a new leader this month when Lisa Luokkala takes over as executive director.

Luokkala, who last worked as a senior parks planner for the city of Duluth, is already familiar with the approximately 300-mile trail, which winds through the southern end of the Zenith City.

Luokkala said her experience working in nonprofits before joining city government five years ago makes the job a good fit.

“This is one of those dream jobs that only comes up every once in a great while,” Luokkala said, adding that she looks forward to “encouraging or connecting people to nature, to the health and wellness benefits of being outdoors and connecting to the land and watershed.”

With a master’s degree in advocacy and political leadership from the University of Minnesota Duluth, Luokkala won the job from a field of more than 50 candidates from around the country, according to an association statement.

Luokkala, who has lived in Duluth for nearly 15 years, said she plans to continue the association’s work to serve a new generation of hikers that likes to connect and plan trips through social media, as well as help spark a ripple effect of caring for land adjacent to the trail.

The COVID-19 pandemic has helped people see the importance of outdoor spaces, she said.

“I think people have a newfound appreciation for the outdoors during pandemic times,” she said.

Luokkala replaces Denny Caneff, who was the association’s executive director since 2017.

Pam Louwagie