No Twin Cities mask mandate for another pair of cities, Fargo-Moorhead

As the latest variant of COVID hits home, the mayors of Minneapolis and St. Paul have moved in lockstep to slap another open-ended mask mandate on citizens this week. The logistics were laid out in the Star Tribune:

Both mandates take effect at 5 p.m. Thursday. Minneapolis’ order requires face coverings in “any indoor locations where members of the public may gather, visit or patronize.” St. Paul’s applies to businesses licensed by the city “at all times when social distancing of at least 6 feet is not maintained.”

“We have to keep our city healthy and moving. Wearing a mask is an obvious next step to do both,” Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said in a statement Wednesday. “The surging numbers of cases and hospitalizations from the omicron variant demand immediate action to keep our residents healthy while making every effort to allow schools and businesses to remain safe and open across our Twin Cities.”

But another pair of cities, Fargo and Moorhead, are also on the same page when it comes to mask mandates — albeit with a decidedly different approach. While masks continue to be required on government premises in both cities, there won’t be any further restrictions for residents on either side of the state line. Forum News notes the restrictions instated by Minneapolis-St. Paul were not an option.

Moorhead Mayor Shelly Carlson said she is not considering a citywide indoor mask requirement at this time. Masks are required in city buildings, she said, noting that policy has been in place for months.

Cass County also has a mask mandate for visitors and employees in government buildings.

Fargo Mayor Tim Mahoney said the omicron variant spreads easily, and he hopes it overtakes the more virulent delta variant, which can cause more complications. He said they are leaving masking up to the discretion of residents at this time. Cass County is reaching the 60% vaccination rate, he added, and testing is “going crazy” in the county with 3,500 people tested one day last week.

On the bright side in the Twin Cities, young children, specifically two and under in Minneapolis, will not be required to mask up. And as always, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter make allowances for favored groups that are not required to follow the rules.

The mandates also exempt athletes, performers and their support staff who are competing or performing indoors.

Fans at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis for Sunday’s Vikings game must wear masks to comply with the city’s mandate, Jeff Anderson, the team’s vice president for strategic and corporate communications, said in a statement.

A violation of the mask mandates could result in a warning letter, a citation or misdemeanor prosecution. Businesses violating St. Paul’s order also could face adverse licensing actions or penalties.