Duluth, Minnesota issues new indoor mask mandate

Like the mayors of Minneapolis and St. Paul did last week, Duluth Mayor Emily Larson issued an indoor mask mandate, effective Jan. 13, 2022, due to the spread of the COVID-19 Omicron variant.

City of Duluth Proclamation and Declaration of Emergency

The Duluth mask mandate states “[n]o the person who controls a Public Accommodation Space must allow a person five years of age or older to enter or remain in their Public Accommodation Space without wearing a face covering. The mask mandate also states “[n]o anyone aged five or over must enter or stay in a public accommodation space without wearing a face covering. Thus, there are obligations for both companies and people to comply with this mandate.

“Public Hosting Space” is defined as:

… the interior space of a business, or an establishment for education, refreshment, entertainment or recreation, or public transport, or an institution of any kind, authorized or not, whose goods, services, facilities, privileges, benefits or accommodations are extended, offered, sold or otherwise made available to the public.

The mask mandate further provides some common examples of public accommodation spaces, including: “retail stores, rental establishments, buses, Duluth Transit Authority facilities and shelters, government buildings, the Duluth Skywalk system, places of worship and service establishments alike as well as educational institutions, recreation facilities and service centers. “Face covering” is also defined as something that complies with CDC guidelines and that: (1) covers the mouth and nose; (2) hugs the sides of the face perfectly; and (3) is attached to the face.

Employers who control public accommodation spaces must also “post a notice[s] of this face covering requirement in conspicuous places inside and outside the entrances to their public accommodation space. The City of Duluth also provided examples of signage.

The Duluth mandate provides for a number of exceptions, including:

  1. People unable to wear a face covering for genuine medical reasons;

  2. People in a private room in a multi-tenant residence, such as an apartment building, or an accommodation facility, such as a hotel, motel, or vacation rental. Face coverings must be worn in all indoor common areas of said establishments;

  3. Commercial customers in public accommodation spaces who are actively eating and/or drinking provided that all individuals wear face coverings when walking to or from their seat while standing or walking in public spaces such as lobbies and restrooms, and when an employee out of business is at the table to serve or clean up;

  4. Business owners, managers, and employees who are in an area of ​​a business establishment that is not open to customers, customers, or the public, provided there is a six-foot distance between people

  5. Educational and child care facilities with written plans consistent with state guidelines;

  6. Fitness facilities with written plans consistent with state guidelines;

  7. In settings where it is not possible to wear a face covering, including when obtaining or providing goods or services such as receiving medical or dental services, or swimming; and

  8. Police, firefighters and other first responders when not practical or engaged in a matter of public safety.

Violators of the Duluth mask mandate may be: issued warning letters; fine ; charged with civil intrusion into public accommodation space; sued for trespassing under the City of Duluth Code 34-40; and liable to criminal prosecution.

The City of Duluth mandate compliance period is short (like the Minneapolis and St. Paul mask mandates), leaving little time for employers to comply. The mask mandate takes effect on Friday January 14, 2022 at 5:00 p.m. and will end on February 12, 2022 at 5:00 p.m.

Given the short compliance period, companies may wish to review the mandate and number of exceptions to determine their applicability to their workplaces. Businesses may also want to print and hang required signage.

© 2022, Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, PC, All rights reserved.National Law Review, Volume XII, Number 15

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