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Cloquet’s mask mandate to end Feb. 18

The mask mandate approved by the Cloquet City Council last month is scheduled to expire on Friday Feb. 18.

Cloquet City Hall Winter.jpg
Cloquet City Hall (Jamey Malcomb / 2021 file / Pine Journal)

CLOQUET — The end of the city's mask requirement is set for Friday, Feb. 18, and the Cloquet City Council does not have plans to extend the mandate.

Mayor Roger Maki, who introduced the mandate last month through a mayor’s proclamation, said while there is no way to quantify how much the mask mandate helped, cases are starting to drop in Cloquet.

The county has registered over 600 new cases in a seven-day span compared to just 135 new cases a month ago.

“Doing it was helpful for keeping people from getting sick,” he said.

Maki brought the proclamation forward last month based on information from the Mayo Clinic about a possible rise in cases due to the omicron variant of COVID-19.

“I think our timing was a little better than Duluth,” he said.

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Cloquet’s mandate began four days after Duluth instituted its own mask mandate on Jan. 14.

The council’s meeting for Tuesday, Feb. 15, was canceled due to not having enough business, meaning no action can be taken on the mask mandate before it expires.

Maki said he heard from people who agreed with the mandate, from people who were against the mandate and from those who agreed with it and felt there was not enough enforcement in Cloquet.

After the Cloquet City Council voted to approved a 30-day mask mandate, local business owners are worried about what could come next.

Immediately after the mandate was implemented there was less compliance, but Maki said he saw a change after about 10 days where more people followed the measure.

“I still think it was a positive thing for the community,” he said.

Councilor Kerry Kolodge, who voted against the mandate, said while he complied with the masking order, he was happy to see it end.

“I’m not against wearing masks, I just don’t think government needs to mandate them,” he said.

COVID-19 cases in the county have also passed the most recent peak from the omicron variant of the virus, and the weekly totals have dropped from 700 cases to 300 cases as of Feb. 10, according to data from the Minnesota Department of Health.

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Kolodge said he had received a lot of feedback from residents when the mandate went into place and only one resident was in favor of it.

“Compliance has been fairly low (for the mandate),” he said. “I think we misread the public with this mask mandate.”

The mandate will be in effect in all indoor public spaces with exceptions for those eating or actively playing sports.

Kolodge was most pleased about the fact cases in the county have passed the recent peak and less residents have been getting sick from the virus.

“Whether the mask mandate helped or didn’t help, I think that number going down is always a good thing,” he said.

Related Topics: CLOQUETCLOQUET CITY COUNCIL
Dylan covers the local governments of Cloquet and Carlton County, as well as the Esko and Wrenshall school boards for the Cloquet Pine Journal.
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