Major Minnesota cities reject new mask mandates

Duluth, St. Cloud, and Edina have all rejected new mask mandates, though Hopkins and Golden Valley voted in favor of "face covering requirements" Tuesday night.

The Edina City Council rejected a new mask mandate at this Jan. 7 meeting. (City of Edina/Facebook)

Leaders in a handful of major Minnesota cities have shot down the idea of new indoor mask mandates.

In Edina, city council members rejected a citywide mask mandate at a meeting this past Friday, in contrast to Minneapolis and St. Paul leaders.

Council Member Kevin Staunton said he supported a new mask mandate because, in his words, “it gets people’s attention.”

“Unless we say something very stark, [people are] not gonna get that the storm is coming, and it’s time to board the windows for a few weeks and get through it,” he said.

But other city leaders, including the mayor, ultimately didn’t agree with Staunton’s assessment.

“People that aren’t wearing a mask now aren’t going to wear a mask just because we passed something this afternoon,” Mayor Jim Hovland said, adding that COVID vaccines are widely available and the public has significantly greater knowledge of the virus than it did in 2020.

In Duluth, the city council failed to pass an emergency mask mandate at a meeting Monday night. The measure, which needed a unanimous vote, was blocked by two council members, Derek Medved and Roz Randorf.

Medved was not opposed to a mask mandate in principle, but he said it’d be better if one came from state or county leaders. (At the state level, Gov. Tim Walz already said he wouldn’t be implementing another mask mandate, though he did express support for the Twin Cities’ mandates.)

Then in St. Cloud, health care officials tried to persuade local leaders throughout central Minnesota to adopt a new mask mandate, though local leaders opted not to go that route.

Instead, they issued a token message encouraging residents to “wear masks indoors, limit interactions with others outside their workplace or family, get vaccinated, wash their hands and stay home if they’re sick,” according to the St. Cloud Times.

Dr. Kim Tjaden, a family physician at CentraCare, reacted to their rejection of the mask mandate with disappointment.

“They have the authority and the responsibility to put a mask mandate in place, and we really feel strongly that that’s what we need,” she told the St. Cloud Times. “We really need policy right now. We’re not asking for long-term policy. We’re asking for four [to six] weeks of masking. They can put an end date on it if they choose to. Words at this point are less important than policy.”

Some cities have decided to follow Minneapolis and St. Paul, including Golden Valley and Hopkins, both of which passed mask mandates Tuesday night. Bloomington passed a resolution encouraging, not requiring, face masks.

Update: The mayor of Duluth announced a 30-day mask mandate that took effect Friday at 5 p.m.