Brookings’ mask mandate not supported by all after two weeks

Local News

The South Dakota Department of Health has confirmed there are currently 116 active cases in Brookings County and two deaths related to covid-19.

Brookings County is in the “substantial” community spread category according to its website, but officials are hoping to curb those numbers with a mandatory mask mandate that went into effect two weeks ago in the city of Brookings.

The mask mandate in Brookings requires face coverings in public places and businesses where 6-foot social distancing is not possible.

“I’ve always been for the mask mandate it protects me and it protects others so I’m all for it,” Teri Bierstedt said.

“We just figure it’s the thing to do and it’s not that inconvenient, so put it on and go,” Jeri Kurtz said.

But not everyone is onboard with the mask mandate. The manager of one local bar says it’s affecting businesses up and down main street.

“So business has really slowed down, I can tell it’s hurt the business especially the workers, the bartenders, they kind of need the support, people coming in to drink at the bar,” manager of The Wild Hair Carlie Thieman said.

The ordinance, that passed on a 5-2 with city council members earlier this month, will be in place for at least another month.

“There are always a few opposing voices, however, the community has stepped up and it’s just become the new normal,” Brookings Public Information Officer Chelsie Bakken said.

Normal maybe, but police still get calls about violators.

“I’d say an average of two to three a week,” Brookings Chief of Police David Erickson said.

Chief of Police, David Erickson, says he knows there are still a lot of people who don’t like the mask mandate, but it’s going to take time to educate them.

“That’s been our stance from the police department is if we do get a report that we follow up on that report use it as an opportunity to educate the individual or individuals about the mandate and the reasons behind it also provide them with a mask if they need it or places they can go to get one,” Erickson said.

“It’s hard to tell if this is working long term, we’ll have to look at those numbers over the next few weeks or month to really be able to see how the mask mandate has affected our numbers,” Bakken said.

The mandatory mask ordinance comes with a few exceptions, such as medical and mental health issues, disabilities, churches and those 5 and younger.

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