Duluth Mask Mandate Set To Expire

"We are now moving not towards ending this pandemic, but finding ways to co-exist with it,” Duluth Mayor Emily Larson said.

DULUTH, Minn. — With the Duluth mask mandate ending Saturday, businesses are looking forward to serving their community face to face, once again.

“We are now moving not towards ending this pandemic, but finding ways to co-exist with it,” Duluth Mayor Emily Larson said.

The past 30 days, Duluth has had to mask up in attempts of trying to slow the transmission of the virus, and the hospitality businesses are excited to no longer enforce it, even though compliance was never an issue for them.

“We didn’t really get affected too much, a lot of people were really willing to put their masks on which is nice, we didn’t really have to fight too much,” brain Gowan, Assistant Manager at Hoops Brewing said.

Mayor Emily Larson said that the mandate was meant to take some of the pressure off of overwhelmed healthcare systems, as both Essenta Health and St. Luke’s made a big push to have it temporarily implemented.

However, even with this mask mandate, the two hospitals, which accept patients from all over the Northland, are actually still at capacity, according to the mayor. She says it’s important to still take the virus seriously.

“And we are starting to go down but it is important to note that there will still continue to be a lag until we get further down that downward spiral or that downward trajectory, before our hospitals feel the relief that they really need and deserve,” Mayor Larson said.

She referred to data that covers the “Duluth area”, which blends the city’s covid numbers in with Hermantown, Proctor, Rice Lake, and nearby townships.

In St. Louis County as a whole, the number of covid cases are trending downward, which reflects what we’re seeing nationally.

“We are starting the climb down but we are not where it would be ideal to be by any means,” Mayor Larson said.

Some businesses say it’s always a relief to see the cases trending down again, because that means people can enjoy indoor activities more relaxed without being required to wear a mask.

“We’ve been starting up some of our events, we have cribbage on Tuesdays, we have ping pong on Wednesdays, it might bring some more people in that maybe weren’t willing to go out before now that the numbers are starting to go down, it’s a bit safer,” Gowan said.

The city of Duluth will still require masks in all of its buildings, and businesses, like Hoops Brewing in Canal Park, can independently choose if they want to enforce them moving forward.

According to St. Louis County, 80% of “Duluth-area” residents are vaccinated.

For more information or visuals on cases and rates in St. Louis County, click here.

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