The city of Ramsey has voted to stop enforcing Gov. Tim Walz's mask mandate, arguing that the statewide effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is infringing on individuals' constitutional rights.

In 4-3 vote Tuesday night, the City Council approved the measure put forth by council members Ryan Heineman and Chelsee Howell stating that city resources "physical, financial or otherwise shall not be used to enforce any of Gov. Walz's Emergency Executive Orders."

It was not immediately clear what liability the city might face as a result of the vote, which was discouraged by city attorney Joe Langel.

"You can't ignore [the executive order] because you disagree with it," he said before the vote. "It still has the full force of the law."

Mayor Mark Kuzma, who returned to work Monday after recovering from COVID, voted against the measure. "I'm disappointed in the council bringing this resolution," he said before the vote.

The measure passed as some states have relaxed their own mandates. Texas, Mississippi, Iowa, North Dakota and Montana have ended or will soon end statewide mask requirements even with the highly contagious variants of COVID-19 still circulating — decisions President Joe Biden called "Neanderthal thinking."

It also comes as the B.1.1.7 U.K. variant was recently discovered in Carver County, causing the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) to call for a pause in youth sports. The number of COVID-19 cases was higher than the state average in ZIP code 55303, which includes Ramsey, during the winter peak with about 12 cases a week per 1,000 residents, according to MDH data. That has dropped to 0.8 cases per 1,000 residents.

Ramsey might be the first city to pass such a measure, according to the League of Minnesota Cities.

In other cities that have considered ordinances that conflict with the governor's executive order, the state Attorney General's Office has been successful in turning those back by educating elected officials about the limits of their authority.

Ramsey Council Member Matt Woestehoff said passing the resolution could open a "potential legal mess," saying the city cannot override the state.

Minnesotans have been required since July 25 to wear a face covering in all indoor businesses and public indoor spaces, unless they're alone. Workers also are required to wear a face covering when working outdoors in situations that don't allow for physical distancing.

The Ramsey resolution says Walz's executive orders have undermined basic human rights and "do not release the city of Ramsey from its obligation to operate in harmony with the constitutions of this state and of the United States."

According to state statute, executive orders trump local ordinances. Cities can require more protection to combat COVID-19 but cannot override an executive order.

Under the state's executive order, cities are encouraged to assess businesses for compliance.

Ramsey Police Chief Jeff Katers said officers have contacted some businesses and gained compliance without issuing citations. He said police responded to 43 cases over the past year, with most of the complaints coming in the first few months of the pandemic.

One case was sent to state regulatory agencies for follow-up, he said.

"The Ramsey Police Department will continue to enforce state laws and city ordinances," Katers said.

Previous efforts in Ramsey to pass similar resolutions failed. But Kuzma — who missed the council's most recent meeting because he was too sick to attend — said things were different this time because the makeup of the council has changed since the last election.

Kuzma said he didn't support the resolution and isn't sure if the council has the authority to tell city employees, including the police chief, to not enforce the law.

"COVID is real," Kuzma said. "Wearing a mask is not a big deal to me."