With COVID-19 cases climbing rapidly, Duluth Mayor Emily Larson on Thursday ordered a mask mandate for indoor public gathering spaces for people older than age 5. The measure takes effect Friday afternoon at 5 p.m.
“If you want to be mad at me, be mad at me. That’s what I’m here for. It’s still the right decision,” Larson told reporters.
Larson acted after the Duluth City Council on Monday declined to pass a mask mandate, instead passing a resolution "requesting the mayor exercise her executive powers to safeguard the community."
Standing with Larson during a press conference Thursday, local health leaders argued the extraordinary jump in COVID cases made the mask mandate necessary.
Amy Westbrook, the St. Louis County public health director, said cases are skyrocketing in the county with some 75 percent of those cases in Duluth.
Larson said the 30-day mandate is what she’s allowed to do with an emergency declaration. After that the City Council would have to act to extend it.
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Duluth is the latest community this week to shift to some kind of COVID-driven restriction.
In the Twin Cities suburbs, Golden Valley and Hopkins both moved to require masks in public places.
The Hopkins City Council adopted a mask requirement that takes effect Friday. It includes most public indoor spaces, as well as common areas on private property, like elevators, lobbies and fitness rooms. It is set to expire Feb. 13. Golden Valley’s mandate covers almost all public indoor spaces in the city.
On Wednesday, the mayors of Minneapolis and St. Paul said their cities will temporarily require proof of vaccination or a recent negative COVID test to enter places serving food and drink, saying the restrictions were needed as COVID’s omicron variant spreads rapidly across the region.
MPR News reporter Tim Nelson contributed to this report.