ST. CLOUD -- St. Cloud is the latest city in Minnesota to require face masks in public indoor spaces. The council voted five to two to pass the temporary ordinance. Many of the council members said they received hundreds of comments from the public about the issue.

Council President Jeff Goerger says he's frustrated that the issue has become so controversial.

This is a minor request to try to make people in this community safe, I just can't understand where this has turned into such a big deal.

Carol Lewis also voted in favor of the mask ordinance.

I put a mask on whenever I go grocery shopping when I get out of the store I take it off, it's not that hard.

George Hontos, Steve Laraway, and Dave Masters were the other three council members voting in favor of the ordinance.

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Paul Brandmire was one of the two people who voted against it. He says the messages he received were about split with half of the people saying a face mask ordinance would make them feel better about being out in public, with other half expressing concern about their freedom of choice being taken away.

My position is that it's not in the city charter or my oath of office to vote on something that simply makes you feel better at the expense of civil liberties of everybody else.

Mike Conway also voted against the ordinance citing the low numbers of COVID-19 positive patients currently at St. Cloud Hospital.

As of Friday, there were seven COVID-19 patients in St. Cloud Hospital, none in the ICU.

Conway says he's all for private businesses and private citizens making the decision for themselves, but he's not for a citywide mandate.

The ordinance goes in effect immediately. It will be in effect for 30 days but could be rescinded earlier or extended by another city council vote.  The city's mask ordinance will also expire if either the St. Cloud state of emergency or the statewide Peacetime Emergency expire, or if a statewide mask law is enacted by Governor Tim Walz.

The emergency ordinance requires face coverings for indoor public places.  Indoor public places include retail stores, government buildings, recreational facilities, etc.  Some exceptions include kids under five years old, people who can't wear a mask for medical reasons, people who have trouble breathing, restaurant or bar customers who are eating or drinking, or workers who are in an area of a business that is not open to customers.  Violations could result in the issuance of a warning, or a fine of $250.

Other Minnesota cities like Minneapolis, St. Paul, Rochester, Mankato, Duluth and several others have already passed a citywide face mask mandate.

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