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Mask up, Minot – The facts

Mask up, Minot.

That’s the message from the City Council, which recently approved a pair of items seeking to engage our community’s residents in helping to protect themselves, and each other, from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The Council unanimously approved two items: One created a temporary policy regarding face coverings for City of Minot employees, and second item created a community wide directive strongly encouraging residents to wear face coverings while in certain public places when social distancing isn’t possible.

Both items take effect Aug. 24. They will expire on Nov. 16 unless the Council extends or terminates them earlier.

Following in the footsteps of Gov. Doug Burgum’s MaskUpND initiative, the mask directive does not make it mandatory for people to wear face coverings while in public. Rather, the City Council is appealing to the “good judgment and common sense of the residents, visitors, and businesses of Minot” to help stop the spread of COVID-19 and more importantly protect the most vulnerable resident that have underlying health conditions. The directive was approved unanimously by the Council last Monday night.

Many businesses in our community have already implemented mandatory mask policies for their employees and customers. More and more stores and restaurants are adopting mask requirements before you enter those facilities. Many students, staff, and teachers will be required to wear masks as our schools open, including Minot State University, Minot Public Schools, and other educational institutions in and around our community. The City’s encouragement to residents to wear face coverings in certain public situations is simply a continuation of what many in the community are already doing.

No one is saying that COVID-19 is going to magically disappear if we all wear masks in public when we are unable to maintain proper social distancing. Recommendations and guidance though from health experts – including the First District Health Unit, the N.D. Department of Health, and the Centers for Disease Control, to name a few – agree that wearing masks in conjunction with social distancing and proper hygiene can have an impact on the virus’ spread.

It’s impossible to create a policy or directive that satisfies everyone. That’s simply a fact of life, especially in government. We know the Council-approved directive, which strongly encourages residents and visitors to wear a face covering when in public places, common areas, and private businesses when social distancing isn’t possible, won’t be welcomed or followed by everyone. We know there will be folks who cannot routinely wear masks for health reasons. We also know there will be residents who simply refuse to wear a mask for their own reasons.

At the City, we’re committed to doing our part. That’s the reason for the new employee face covering policy that will take effect Monday. We’re asking our employees to wear face coverings when it’s not possible to maintain social distancing and they have to be in meetings together, when they are interacting with members of the public, or whenever they’re riding in a vehicle with another person, among other instances.

The City has a wide variety of job environments, from employees who spend the majority of their day in an office to street department employees who spend their days outside working on all sorts of projects and meeting with members of the public. Again, it’s not possible to create a policy that addresses every potential scenario. But the employee committee tasked with working through this issue has done a great job creating a reasonable policy that provides a solid foundation to work from, although we recognize it will almost certainly undergo changes as the pandemic continues.

The City of Minot, the City Council, and I, as mayor, have a duty to help protect the health and well-being of our employees, our residents, and our community. And we’re simply asking you, as residents, to do your part. Remember: You’re not just protecting yourself by wearing a mask, you’re also protecting others. Minot residents have always banded together to take care of each other; this is another opportunity to prove that we’re willing to make small, temporary sacrifices for the good of each other and our community.

So, Mask Up, Minot. If not for yourself, do it for your neighbors, your friends, and your family.

Sincerely, City Hall.

You can find more about what’s happening at the City of Minot at minotnd.org, or find us on Facebook and Twitter. We’d also encourage you to sign up for our monthly electronic newsletter on our website.

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