Cloquet City Council Passes Mask Mandate; Votes to Take Effect August 1st

While some councilors supported the language of the ordinance, others thought enforcement would be an issue.

CLOQUET, Minn.- A mask mandate for indoor public places was passed by the Cloquet City Council Monday evening, taking effect August 1st. Unlike Duluth, the vote was not unanimous — the council, it seems, as divided as they said the community is on the issue.

The Council passed the ordinance 5-2, the only change being making it effective August 1st.

According to city councilors, feedback from the public was 50/50 on whether to pass the ordinance.

While none of the councilors who spoke at Monday’s council meeting were completely against the ordinance, the biggest issue brought up was enforcement.

City leaders said that in order for Cloquet’s smaller police force to make sure the city of over 12,000 would follow the rule, businesses and individuals would have to hold each other accountable.

“This enforcement piece needs to be voluntary followed by both the public and businesses,” said City Administrator Tim Peterson. “If we don’t get the voluntary portion of this, the Police Department honest to goodness needs to be the last resort here.”

Due to this, some councilors proposed removing the word “mandate” from the ordinance and instead strongly encouraging businesses and the public to wear masks, without violations or penalties if they don’t.

But others at the meeting said they have seen mask wearing go down in the city, and know at-risk citizens who can’t go to public places because of that — which they call “a true violation of rights.”

They added that the stronger language is needed to keep the amount of lives lost in Carlton County at zero.

“I for one could not face myself if I had an opportunity to do this mandate and protect people; if I passed that up and we were to lose a life,” said one councilor joining the meeting virtually.

“These are our friends and our neighbors and our relatives and the loss of even one person in our community is going to have a profound effect,” she said.

Councilor Warren Carlson then proposed having the ordinance go into effect August 1st, rather than immediately as originally intended, to give businesses a chance to put up signage. It was then passed with that amendment.

Other than extending the effective date, the language of the ordinance is identical to Duluth. The exceptions are the same as well.

Masks would not be required for those unable to wear them for medical reasons, anyone actively eating or drinking in a restaurant or bar; in schools, child care, and fitness centers with plans in compliance with state guidelines; and by emergency responders when not engaged in a public safety matter.

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