MITCHELL, S.D. (KELO) – As the number of COVID-19 cases rise, we’ve seen a handful of the state’s bigger cities pass ordinances for mask mandates.
Mitchell was added to that list Monday night when the mayor passed an emergency executive order to require masks for indoor public spaces when six feet of social distancing isn’t possible.
Kim Vilhauer owns the Rusted Wing Gift Shop in Mitchell. She says her biggest concern throughout the pandemic has been a shutdown.
“I don’t want to see that happen so we just need to pull together and do everything we can to keep that from happening,” Vilhauer said.
For the sake of her business, Vilhauer has been regularly wearing a mask in her store.
“We’ve been wearing masks before the mandate and we appreciate all our customers that come in the store and wear masks, but we’ve been doing it for the safety of our customers and ourselves because the longer we can keep everybody safe, the longer our doors stay open,” Vilhauer said.
Mitchell Mayor Bob Everson hopes this mask mandate can do just that.
“We’ve had high numbers, we’ve had a lot of deaths, in the city, and, you know, no matter which side of the coin you’re on, that’s an issue,” Everson said.
Two weeks ago, the Mitchell City Council tabled a mask mandate ordinance, but brought it back this week. During its first reading on Monday, the mayor enacted an emergency order to allow the mandate to go into effect right away.
“If people are not wearing masks, as they should be, what we’re saying currently, or at least near term, is, hey, educate the people. Tell them why we want them to wear a mask and tell them they are violating our city ordinance and if they continue to do so, you know, it could result in fines or penalties,” Everson said.
Everson says he didn’t want to have to enact a mask mandate.
“I don’t like it either but we need help, keep people safe within the city and right now our best information is telling us that masks might be the way to do it,” Everson said.
Anyone who would like to voice their opinions on the mask mandate can do so next week. The Mitchell City Council will be discussing the ordinance once again during their meeting, which has been moved to the Corn Palace to allow for more social distancing.
The mandate does have some exceptions including children under the age of five and people with medical conditions or disabilities that prevent them from safely wearing a mask.