Council will consider resolution encouraging mask use, not mandate

ABERDEEN, S.D. (By Elisa Sand – A mask mandate in Aberdeen seems unlikely, at least just now.

But use of masks within the city limits will be strongly encouraged with a resolution that will be considered today by the Aberdeen City Council.

The proposal is not an ordinance and would not mandate use.

City Manager Joe Gaa described the resolution as a protocol for residents to follow and a middle ground option for the council to consider with masking a divisive topic.

“This is the simplest way to do it,” he said. “It allows for masking, but doesn’t put you in front of a firing squad if you don’t.”

Or even impose a fine.

The prospect of a mandate was discussed last week.

The resolution would encourage every person in Aberdeen to wear a face covering indoors and outdoors when exposed to non-household members and social distancing of 6 feet or more can’t happen.

The resolution lists nine exemptions:

  • Kids who are younger than school age.
  • People with medical conditions or a disability that prevents the wearing of a mask.
  • People working a job where social distancing cannot be achieved, but mask-wearing would inhibit the ability to safely and effectively perform the job.
  • Those participating in athletic events.
  • People actively eating or drinking.
  • Those driving a vehicle alone or with others from their household.
  • People receiving services that require access to the face.
  • Those actively engaged in religious worship, though face coverings are strongly encouraged.
  • People giving a speech or performance, though that person should be safely distanced from others.

The resolution also gives law enforcement the authority to assist businesses and property managers in the removal of people who refuse to wear face coverings when asked to do so.

If approved, the resolution would go into effect immediately and remain in effect until South Dakota is no longer in a public health emergency.

The council meets today at 5:30 p.m. at the Municipal Building. Capacity in the chambers is limited as seats have been spread out to ensure social distancing. Gaa said the public has been encouraged in the past week to call with input on mask use. A compilation of those comments will be presented to the council.