City of Superior Discusses Mask Mandate Proposal

SUPERIOR, Wis.– The Superior City Council met Monday night to discuss the potential of a city-wide mask mandate for indoor public places.

This comes after the area has seen an increase in cases over the last few weeks, forcing some businesses to voluntarily shut down.

As of Monday, there are 63 positive COVID-19 cases in Douglas County and over two-thirds of those cases have come from the city of Superior. Now, city leaders, including Mayor Jim Paine are calling for change to prevent the spread of the virus.

“This is an unprecedented crisis, particularly in our lifetimes, and we’re gonna have to take some dramatic action to meet it,” said Superior Mayor Jim Paine.

The Superior City Council voted 9 -1 Monday night to bring it for a vote at a future council meeting. Keith Kern, who owns Jimmy’s Bar and Saloon and is the local President of the Tavern League, was the lone vote against.

The resolution would require masks to be worn by everyone in public places and transportation. With the exception of those with health conditions that prevent mask wearing.

“We’ve seen [bars and taverns] shut their doors again, that is also probably not good for business and to be named directly in the health and human service department documents,” said Superior City Councilor Jenny Van Sickle.

Businesses that don’t follow the mandate won’t face any fines but will face challenges with the city when it comes to issues like licenses and grants.

When it comes to this big issue, Mayor Paine says right now that public health is more important than public opinion.

“Coronavirus is so new that not even scientists know everything about it yet,” said Paine. “So while this is a democratic government, sometimes the duty of representatives is to listen to experts and to put the work in to make decisions that are necessary for public health.”

As for Douglas County, Public Health Officer Kathy Ronchi says the county will not be considering a mask mandate. She says the biggest issue is with the ability to enforce the measure. But Ronchi says she works closely with the mayor and fully supports the mask mandate for superior.

“I prefer to support businesses being compliant through education because they understand what works, they understand what is going to promote health within the community,” said Ronchi.

The official vote for the mask mandate will take place on July 21. The resolution will need a majority vote to pass and would take effect on July 27.

Duluth City Council used their emergency powers to pass a similar mask mandate Monday. More on that here.

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