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What you need to know about Mankato’s possible emergency mask ordinance

(Mankato, MN) – The Mankato City Council will hear public opinion before they vote tonight on an emergency ordinance that would make face masks a requirement in public spaces.

The city council’s public hearing begins at 6 p.m. Monday evening and will be held virtually. Anyone wishing to speak in favor or against the ordinance can register on the city website.

Normally an ordinance would simply require a majority vote, but passage of an emergency ordinance requires at least five votes from Mankato’s seven city council members.

It was originally intended that if the ordinance passed, it would go into effect the following day, on Tuesday but the draft ordinance has a new effective date of Friday, July 10.

The ordinance is specific to “spaces of public accommodation,” meaning any establishment that has goods and services available to the public.  Examples would include:

  • Retail stores,
  • Rental establishments,
  • City government buildings
  • Service establishments
  • Businesses that serve food and beverage.
  • Recreational facilities
  • Grocery stores, pharmacies, and convenience stores

Spaces not considered places of public accommodation include:

  • Health care facilities
  • Child care facilities
  • Residental and congregate care facilities
  • Juvenile justice facilities
  • Crisis shelters, soup kitchens, or similar institutions.
  • Restaurants & food courts inside of secured airport zones (including the U of M Mankato)

There are some exemptions.  Face masks would NOT be required for:

  • Eating & drinking – patrons practicing social distancing may go maskless while eating or drinking and seated at a table.  Masks would be required when interacting with people from other tables or when not seated.
  • Fitness Centers & Gyms – Patrons are not required to wear face coverings or masks while training, but are encouraged to wear them when not active.  CDC guidelines apply.
  • Movie Theaters & Indoor Entertainment Venues – Face coverings could be removed while in an assigned seat with proper social distancing, but masks should be worn when patrons are not seated.

Face masks would be required for anyone age two and older in indoor public spaces.  Children two years of age and younger would not be required to wear mask due to the risk of choking, strangulation, and suffocation.

Employers that are spaces of public accommodation must require their employees to wear face coverings during face-to-face contact with customers.

Violators of the ordinance would first be issued a warning, followed by a citation and misdemeanor charges.

Further violations would result in a strike (for licensed establishments) and a $200 penalty, plus associated court fees.

For individuals, a warning would be issued, but further violations could result in a misdemeanor conviction with $100 in fines plus court fees.

The public hearing begins a 6 p.m. on Zoom.

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