ROCHESTER, Minn. - The city of Rochester has reinstated a mask mandate; Mayor Kim Norton signed a declaration of local emergency which is in effect now through Friday.
The mandate is required in all indoor public settings where there are medically vulnerable individuals or children under the age of 12.
Mayor Norton explained that includes, “Schools, museums, places where children congregate. Also, where parents might take children. I think there may be a desire by some businesses to have hours for adults-only over 12 and areas where people can bring children and everyone can mask. We're leaving that up to the businesses to decide how they want to manage that. Really the goal here was to narrow the focus to protect children.”
The declaration comes as the CDC is recommending masks be worn by both vaccinated and unvaccinated people in indoor settings where there are high rates of transmission.
“That's where we've been for two weeks now so it seems silly to keep waiting for something to change when we know the change is potentially worse, not better,” said Norton.
The city says another reason for the mask mandate is because the Med-City lives in the shadow of the Mayo Clinic and with thousands of visitors coming to the area daily, many with underlying medical conditions, it's important every visitor feel safe.
Barb Davis from St. Paul says she supports the mask mandate. Davis explained, “I'm immunocompromised and I know far too many people who have already had breakthrough infections and I want to protect children who can't get vaccinated yet. I have a 2-year-old granddaughter and I would do anything to protect her from this virus.”
While visitors like Matt and Jake Miller from Stillwater do say they’re tired of masking. Matt said, “It seems like it's harder to put up with the second time around.”
He did add it’s the simple and right thing to do regardless of the inconvenience saying, “I do understand it's an issue that's spreading and it is important to control it so I guess if we have to do our part we will.”
Lynn Levinson from Chicago agrees saying, ”Whatever we can do, we should. If it's wearing masks I have no problem with it.”
And Joanne Westphal from Travis City, Michigan also added, “I think we really have to follow a mask mandate until we get the COVID virus under control and especially with the new delta variant. Its infection rate is telling its own story.”
However, there are still some who don’t agree with the mandate or believe in the science.
JustoDaGod from Chicago said, “It's a fraud. COVID is a fraud, COVID-19, coniferous virus, whatever you want to call it is a fraud.”
The emergency declaration is a bit different in that adult-only business such as bars and many gyms don’t necessarily have to comply with the order but it is strongly encouraged.
The mandate is in effect until Friday at 10:15 AM at which point the Rochester City Council will have to decide if they want to keep it in effect through October 18.
However, the council can continuously monitor the local transmission levels and decide to stop the mandate if members believe it’s no longer necessary.