St. Louis Park approves mask mandate amid sometimes chaotic hearing
Updated: Apr 26
Seth Rowe | Janruary 26th, 2022
St. Louis Park City Council members were unsure about a mask mandate Jan. 10 but unanimously approved one Jan. 18 following a sometimes raucous debate from speakers.
Supporters of the mandate discussed personal impacts of COVID-19, such as deaths or severe illness from the virus impacting family members. However, a group of opponents – many who did not wear masks and several who also opposed vaccinations – dominated the podium, often cheering other speakers, sometimes refusing to abide by time limits, shouting over council members and finally leaving en masse when a majority on the council voiced support for the mandate.
As they left, shouts that included, “Shame on all of you,” “You’re destroying St. Louis Park, taking over every suburb” and “Nazis!” erupted in the Council Chambers – the most disruptive an audience at St. Louis Park City Hall had been since a debate over saying the Pledge of Allegiance at St. Louis Park City Council meetings in 2019 that included similar outbursts.
The emergency ordinance the council approved was set to go into effect
at the beginning of the day Friday, Jan. 21, and run through the end of the day Feb. 22, unless the council took action to repeal it earlier or to extend it.
Patrons of restaurants and bars in St. Louis Park must wear face coverings in restaurants and bars when not seated at a table, under the ordinance requirements. Additionally, masks are required in entertainment venues and common spaces in multifamily residential and multi-tenant office buildings. Businesses must post signs stating that face coverings are required.
At the Jan. 10 meeting, St. Louis Park Fire Chief Steve Koering had expressed concerns about the enforcement of a mask mandate while Mayor Jake Spano had questioned whether one would be necessary given predictions that the omicron variant would soon peak.
Councilmember Nadia Mohamed expressed concern that enforcement could target people of color. Other council members in attendance favored a mandate to decrease the spread of the virus. The St. Louis Park City Council considered a recommendation for the use of masks at the meeting but ultimately tabled the discussion a week considering that Councilmember Sue Budd could not attend due to a quarantine.