Winona Mayor Mark Peterson on Tuesday announced a citywide mask order that will require all Winona residents and visitors to wear face coverings indoors in public buildings and anywhere where physical distancing is difficult.
The order will take effect at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, July 10, and last for 30 days. The mayor has the ability to enact the order under the local emergency declaration the city council approved this spring in response to COVID-19. The Winona City Council has the opportunity to extend or end the order at any point.
“The single most important action any Winonan can take to prevent the spread of COVID is to wear a mask,” Peterson said. “This is the right thing to do. This order will help keep our businesses open, allow our schools and universities to open this fall, and most importantly protect the health and safety of all Winona residents.”
A mask, or face covering, refers to a manufactured or homemade cloth covering that fully covers an individual’s nose and mouth. The city is making arrangements to provide masks free of charge at accessible locations to residents in need.
The order has several requirements for wearing masks when individuals are closer than six feet to another person, including: employees of retail businesses, public transportation users, patrons of bars and restaurants when not seated at tables, gym users, entertainment venue attendees, and more.
The order includes exemptions for those with medical, disability, or developmental reasons; children younger than two; youth sports; dining; public speaking; businesses like salons under equal or more strict orders; buildings not under city control like county and state facilities; and others.
Anyone who chooses not to comply and who does not meet a reason for exemption will be asked to leave the business or area. If they refuse, law enforcement may enforce trespassing laws. Businesses that violate the proclamation may face administrative action for any licenses they possess with the city.
Visit www.cityofwinona.com/maskorder for a copy of the full order and more details.
Winona joins Rochester and Mankato in a growing regional approach to mask orders; both cities approved their orders on Monday. Duluth, meanwhile, plans to vote on a similar order next week.
“The city has been proactive in our COVID response from the first day,” said city manager Steve Sarvi. “This citywide mask order is the next step in making a difference before experiencing the significant increase in cases we’ve seen in our neighboring communities.”
Peterson strongly encouraged other communities in the region, especially La Crosse, Onalaska, and those in Trempealeau and Buffalo counties, to consider similar order.
The order comes a week after the city launched Wear One For Winona, a campaign designed to encourage all Winonans to wear masks in public spaces. Hundreds of individuals and more than 40 businesses and organizations have already signed on to support the cause.
The city will continue to promote Wear One For Winona throughout the summer; residents may participate by posting a selfie on social media with the hashtag #WearOneForWinona and their reason for wearing a mask.
The city continues to urge residents to practice other safe and healthy behaviors, including regular hand-washing, sanitizing and disinfecting surfaces, staying at least six feet physically distant from others, and avoiding hosting or attending larger gatherings.
Visit cityofwinona.com and facebook.com/cityofwinonacovid19 for regular updates on the city’s response to COVID-19.