Updated Jan 12, 2022 - News

Twin Cities suburbs take a pass on mask mandates

The circle with a slash emoji repeated on a blue background, with one mask emoji illuminated off-center.
Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

Minneapolis and St. Paul largely stand alone when it comes to reviving mask mandates in response to rising Omicron cases.

Driving the news: The Duluth City Council became the latest Minnesota city government to reject a mandate Monday night.

  • Local leaders in Bloomington passed a resolution this week encouraging, but not requiring, residents and visitors to wear masks and follow other CDC and state health guidance on curbing COVID.

Why it matters: Masking — especially with an N95 or similar face coverings — in crowded indoor spaces is one of the best tools we have to prevent the virus' spread.

  • The cities of Hopkins and Golden Valley cited that reasoning in passing mask mandates of their own Tuesday night.

Yes, but: Some local leaders say mandates just aren't effective at this stage of the pandemic, as people who don't want to mask simply won't comply.

  • Gov. Tim Walz has cited that same rationale for why he hasn't sought to institute another statewide rule.

State of play: While the League of Minnesota Cities isn't tracking how many members have mandates, Minneapolis and St. Paul are two of the only major cities to make headlines with new orders in the new year.

  • Edina also rejected a requirement in favor of a recommendation last week, and city administrators from a number of metro suburbs told The Star Tribune they aren't focused on mandates at this time.

What they're saying: Bloomington Mayor Tim Busse told Axios that he and other members of the council are worried about putting the burden of enforcement on retail workers, especially after getting feedback about the difficulty they faced during the last mandate.

  • "Asking the teenager working at Boot Barn at the Mall of America to enforce [a mandate] for someone who comes in without a mask, I just thought that was unfair," he said, adding that voluntary mask use and vaccination rates appear high in the suburb.

What's next: Minnetonka will weigh its own mask mandate on Friday.

The bottom line: Even if some cities join in, adoption of widespread mask mandates outside of the borders of Minneapolis and St. Paul appears unlikely at this time.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect the passage of two additional mask mandate Tuesday night.

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