Starting this Friday, July 10, a new ruling by the Mankato City Council requires the wearing of face masks in indoor public spaces for the coming 60 days in an effort to contain COVID-19 cases.
The new ordinance passed July 6 by a 5-2 vote.
According to reports by the Mankato Free Press and KEYC, the ordinance requires the wearing of face masks in most public indoor spaces including retail stores and city government buildings. Persons using the Mankato Transit System are also required to wear face masks.
Restaurants and bars are exempt from Mankato’s new mask requirement as long as patrons remain seated and socially distanced. Once they stand, masks are required. Also excluded are movie theatres, fitness centers and gyms.
First-time violators will receive a warning with repeat offenders who refuse to comply facing a $100 fine. Businesses not enforcing the ordinance could be fined $200.
The city’s actions came after Mankato experienced a spike in COVID-19 cases associated with bar-hopping among younger people. While Minnesota is seeing an overall decline in COVID-19, Mankato has experienced a recent spike.
According to the Free Press, Blue Earth County – that includes Mankato – reported 180 COVID-19 cases between March 16 and June 20. In a two-week period, cases climbed to 299 reportedly due to young people crowding reopened bars and restaurants.
Following those increased clusters of cases, Minnesota Public Radio reported that people in their 20s now make up the state’s largest age group of confirmed cases. Median age for COVID-19 cases is now just 39 years old.