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City of Rochester issues face mask mandate, backed by Mayo Clinic

Mankato joined Rochester in requiring face masks in public indoor places, making them the two latest cities to do so.

The city of Rochester is among the latest in Minnesota to require masks in public places.

The Rochester City Council voted Monday to mandate face coverings in indoor areas including bars, restaurants, public transportation and stores. The order goes into effect Wednesday and is enforceable by law.

“With infection rates on the rise locally, it’s important that we do everything we can, as a community, to keep residents and visitors safe from the COVID-19 virus,” said Mayor Kim Norton in a statement. “The added benefit of protecting our businesses from another shutdown and making their environments safer for more customers makes a mask requirement the best choice right now.”

Rochester is home to the Mayo Clinic, which already required masks on its premises, and backs the mandatory mask mandate.

KIMT reports the mandate will expire on Sept. 4, when Minnesota's peacetime emergency comes to an end, or when either Olmsted County or the Mayo Clinic say it's no longer necessary.

Mankato also passed a similar ordinance Monday, which is set to go into effect Friday. Both mandates allow for exceptions for children under the age of 2 and those with medical conditions that prevent them from wearing a mask.

The two cities join Minneapolis, St. Paul and Edina in requiring masks. The University of Minnesota also recently updated its policy to require face masks in campus buildings in the fall.

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St. Cloud could be next, according to the St. Cloud Times, which reports the St. Cloud City Council voted Monday to put a mask mandate on the July 20 agenda. 

The Minnesota Department of Health and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention both recommend wearing masks to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, especially in indoor spaces where social distancing may be difficult.

Minnesota does not currently have a statewide mask mandate, but the Minnesota Medical Association issued a statement on behalf of medical professionals across the state last month urging state leaders to order one.

As of Monday, Minnesota had reported more than 38,000 COVID-19 cases, and in Monday's figures saw its positive test rate go above 7 percent, having for several days been below the 5 percent threshold the CDC says is required for 14 days before further reopening of the economy.

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