Cloquet city officials will no longer require masks to be worn while inside public spaces as of Friday, May 14, due to a recent order from Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz.
Under an emergency city ordinance, Cloquet has been requiring masks to be worn while indoors in public spaces since last summer, passing the mandate in a 5-2 vote, just one day before Gov. Tim Walz announced a statewide mask mandate July 22.
While the city ordinance requiring masks to be worn by the public was not officially repealed until Tuesday, May 18, City Administrator Tim Peterson explained that was deemed null and void as of May 14 under the recent orders from the governor surrounding mask mandates.
Established by the City Council out of safety concerns during the COVID-19 pandemic, the mask ordinance had a stipulation that executive orders from the governor could overrule guidelines set forth in the ordinance.
On Thursday, May 13, Walz announced an end to the statewide mask mandate effective Friday, May 14, with some guidelines remaining for schools and health care facilities — resulting in an end to Cloquet's enforcement of the city mask mandate.
The official appeal of Cloquet's mask ordinance took place at the council meeting Tuesday, May 18, with the council voting unanimously to repeal the mandate. Ward 4 council member Kerry Kolodge was absent.
Following the initial end of mask enforcement by the city, Peterson clarified that individual businesses still have the right to require masks to be worn on their premises.
Cloquet Mayor Roger Maki was one of the original proponents for a mask mandate last summer and said he stands by the city's decision to enforce masks. However, he said he does now support the loosening of Cloquet's mask requirements due to the governor's recent action.
Following the governor's decision, cities throughout Minnesota have been announcing their individual actions regarding mask restrictions, with Minneapolis opting to keep mask mandates in place, while Duluth repealed most mask requirements.
Maki explained that Cloquet officials have been closely monitoring state and other area cities' decisions surrounding the pandemic, and he suspected they would follow suit of the governor's orders.
He explained that he is still in favor of requiring masks to be worn in certain areas and that he will seek to allow individual businesses to make their own decisions surrounding mask policies.
This story was updated at 3:40 p.m. May 14 with additional information from City Administrator Tim Peterson. It was originally posted at 2:52 p.m. May 14.
This story was updated at 9:05 a.m. May 19 with additional information from the Cloquet city council. It was originally posted at 2:52 p.m. May 14.