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Mask mandate could be back for discussion

The continuation of a citywide mask mandate is expected to be discussed during the regular COVID-19 update at tonight’s Minot City Council meeting. The council meeting begins at 5:30 p.m. in City Hall and can be viewed live on the city’s YouTube Channel or on public access Channel 19.

Mayor Shaun Sipma said the city’s existing mask mandate is tied to the existence of the state’s emergency declaration so even though the governor has lifted a state mandate, the state of emergency and the city’s mandate continue.

“Some are looking for discussion on whether we are going to roll ours back,” Sipma said. The city council voted 5-2 in October to direct the mayor to impose a community mask mandate that carries no penalty.

Sipma said he doesn’t support lifting the mandate, given the potential for another rise in COVID-19 cases..

“It would be better if we were further into our vaccine categories prior to rolling it back. There’s a lot of headway being made, and it would be really, really terrible to have setbacks this close,” he said.

A hearing was held in the state Capitol this morning on a resolution introduced by Rep. Rick Becker, R-Bismarck, to end North Dakota’s state of emergency.

There’s also the possibility the council will address a proposed low-income housing project and family homeless shelter that has been moving forward as part of the National Disaster Resilience Program. City staff have been looking into the projects’ futures after Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota announced last week that it will be closing. Sipma said whether the matter comes before the council tonight depends on the extent of the information that can be obtained regarding LSSND’s plans.

The city entered a sub-recipient agreement with LSSND’s Lutheran Social Services Housing to build 17 units of multi-family affordable rental housing and to build a family shelter. Some site-related work has begun.

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