All Winona residents and visitors must wear masks inside all public places and where social distancing is challenging starting at 12:01 a.m. Friday, according to an order by Mayor Mark Peterson.
The order is expected to last at least 30 days.
The order is possible because of the city council’s approval earlier in the COVID-19 pandemic of a local emergency declaration.
The masks, whether homemade or manufactured, must cover a person’s nose and mouth.
The city is planning to offer free masks to those in need.
The order includes requirements for retail employees, public transportation users, bar and restaurant patrons when not seated, gym users, entertainment venue attendees and others.
Exceptions included in the order are for people under 2 years old, people who are limited by medical, disability or development reasons, people who play youth sports, people dining or public speaking, people in businesses that have their own strict orders, people in county or state facilities, and others.
People not wearing masks who fall into the required categories will be asked to leave the business they entered or the area.
Trespassing laws may be enforced if the person does not leave.
Licenses may be taken away from businesses if they do not ask people not wearing masks to leave.
“The single most important action any Winonan can take to prevent the spread of COVID is to wear a mask. 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,” Peterson said in a release.
His order follows the example of cities like Rochester and Mankato.
He hopes other communities in the region, including La Crosse and Onalaska, will follow Winona’s example.
In La Crosse, Mayor Tim Kabat has urged county health officials to take broad measures such as mandating masks in public or enforcing its own safer-at-home order, but was met with opposition from county health officials who said they didn’t have the authority.
Kabat also encouraged business owners and groups to enforce rules at individual establishments, and citywide such venues as beaches and city hall have been closed to the public.
Winona City Manager Steve Sarvi said in the release, “The city has been proactive in our COVID response from the first day. 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.”
To read the full order and for more details, visit www.cityofwinona.com/maskorder.
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