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Brookings the first South Dakota city to implement mask mandate

The decision was made by city councilors after hours of public input.
The decision was made by city councilors after hours of public input.(KSFY)
Published: Sep. 9, 2020 at 7:15 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - The community of Brookings is now the first and only city in the state to have implemented a mask mandate.

This coming after the Brookings City Council voted Tuesday night to approve an ordinance that requires masks in public spaces and events where social distancing isn’t possible.

At Tuesday night’s meeting, dozens of concerned citizens came to make their voices heard to the city council.

“For a council to consistently refuse to listen to the majority of their constituency, I think that it’s just a matter of time before the community says enough is enough," Brookings small business owner and former Brookings City Councilor Jael Thorpe said.

Now that the mandate is in place, the city is expecting its residents to abide by the ordinance. However, some believe it will be nearly impossible to enforce.

“By putting (a mask mandate) out there, it doesn’t mean that people will necessarily comply, and it just means that we’re going to widen the divide," Thorpe said.

There are exceptions to the mandate though, like if you have a medical reason for not wearing a face covering, or are a child five years old and younger.

“We’re all in this together, we didn’t ask for this pandemic to happen," Brookings Public Information Officer Chelsie Bakken said. "We all need to just continue to keep working together, and stay friendly, to look at other people’s opinions and respect them, but continue to work together for the benefit of our community.”

Masks will be required in all public buildings, businesses, and city-sanctioned events. Churches as well as other events, such as high school sports, are expected to establish their own COVID protocols.

“The goal of this is to look out for the health and welfare of our community, to keep the schools open, to keep the university open, to keep businesses open, and make sure that our community members are safe," Bakken said.

While many opposed to the council’s actions understand why a mask mandate is being put in place, they say it’s gone too far.

“Six months ago we were all doing our part, we went along with lockdowns and the restrictions for the collective good, but as this has gone on and on, and the story is totally different than it was, we’re seeing that the government overreach will never end," Thorpe said.

While the adopted ordinance states the mask mandate is in effect for 60 days, city leaders tell me they reserve the right to change that time frame if needed.

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