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When Minnesota’s mask mandate ends, there will be no local mask order in the city of Winona and masks will no longer be required in public indoor or outdoor spaces.
Gov. Tim Walz is expected to formalize the end of the state’s mask mandate Friday, a day after the CDC announced fully vaccinated individuals no longer need to wear masks in most indoor and outdoor settings.
Winona’s order went into effect July 2020, weeks before the state mandate was announced, and was one of the first in the state in a time of rapidly rising cases, hospitalizations and deaths in the city. It was ordered by then-Mayor Mark Peterson and affirmed by the Winona City Council. When the mask order was announced, it included a provision that the order would be superseded by any state mandates - Minnesota announced its state mask mandate later that month, and the City Council did not extend the local order.
“Masks were a critical tool that prevented the spread of COVID and kept Winonans safe throughout the pandemic,” said Mayor Scott Sherman. “Now that many residents have been vaccinated, our community is in a different place. The order was the right thing to do then, and the end of the state’s mandate is the right thing to do now.”
Masks will no longer be required at city facilities, including the library, Friendship Center, and City Hall. Masks will still be required on public transit, per the governor’s order, including city buses. Residents doing business with the city, either in the community or in city facilities, are welcome to ask employees to wear masks if that makes them comfortable.
Private businesses and employers in Winona have the ability to make their own decisions on masks. The city asks residents to be patient as businesses react to this change and announce their own plans.
“It’s important to support our local businesses and be respectful of their choices,” Sherman said. “They’ve suffered through a lot of disruption during this pandemic, and I want residents to be there for them during this latest change.”
Residents may continue to wear masks in public spaces, whether they’re not fully vaccinated or for any other reason. The city also encourages all residents to consider wearing masks when around children younger than 12, who have not yet had an opportunity to be vaccinated.
“It’s important Winonans know they can wear a mask whenever they want if it makes them feel safer,” City Manager Steve Sarvi said. “We ask residents to be respectful of their neighbors’ choices and preferences.”
City leaders pointed to the end of the state’s mandate as an incentive for residents to continue getting vaccinated.
“The best thing our community can do to ensure a safe and healthy summer for everyone is for Winonans to get their shots,” said fire chief and city emergency manager Curt Bittle. “It’s never been easier to get vaccinated, and in most cases you no longer even need an appointment.”
Winona County Public Health holds regular vaccination clinics at the East End Rec, Winona Health frequently offers walk-in clinics, and shots are available in multiple locations across Winona including Hy-Vee, Walmart, and other locations.