Mayor of Rochester issues local mask mandate

Olmsted County, where Rochester is located, "recently moved from a substantial transmission rate" to a "high transmission rate," the mayor’s declaration says.

Rochester Public Schools/Facebook

As concerns about the Delta variant begin to rise, one southern Minnesota city has brought back its mask mandate.

Rochester Mayor Kim Norton declared a local state of emergency Tuesday, allowing her to implement an immediate citywide mask mandate, according to an announcement from the city.

Masks are required in every indoor public setting in the city, “where medically vulnerable individuals or children under the age of 12 are expected to be present,” the announcement declares.

Olmsted County, where Rochester is located, “recently moved from a substantial transmission rate” to a “high transmission rate,” the mayor’s declaration says.

“The recent spread of the Delta variant among both the vaccinated and unvaccinated has resulted in an abrupt and concerning change in the fight against the pandemic,” reads the declaration.

The mayor also encouraged restaurants and bars to continue using outdoor seating as much as possible.

The mandate will be in effect until 10:15 a.m. on Friday, at which point the Rochester City Council will have to extend the mandate.

The local emergency declaration will be in place for two months, until October 18, unless the city council revokes it earlier.

Several entities have begun mandating masks again, with at least 17 school districts requiring face coverings this fall regardless of vaccination status.

Many businesses continue to require or strongly recommend that masks be worn by their employees and customers, and Gov. Tim Walz has advised employers to require vaccines for their staff.

CDC guidance currently recommends that everyone over the age of two wear a mask in indoor public spaces, regardless of vaccination status.