SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The mask mandate for Sioux Falls is slated to expire on March 13, and on Tuesday night the city council looked at possibly extending the mandate. The current mask mandate has no penalty for people who don’t follow it, and that’s the case with the expansion. On Tuesday the council took up the first reading of this extended mandate; the question was whether or not to send it to a second reading on March 9.
The mandate extension would require people to wear a mask or a face covering when they are “in an indoor retail business” or they are in a facility owned by the city if six feet of social distancing isn’t possible. Councilor Rick Kiley, one of the ordinance’s two sponsors along with councilor Curt Soehl, outlined when this mandate would go away.
“Once the South Dakota Department of Health announces moving to priority group 1E in the vaccination process, the mandate will end,” Kiley said. “It will sunset.”
1E includes people in fire service as well as “Critical Infrastructure Workers.” Right now, group 1D is receiving shots.
“This proposal is a result of a collaborative effort involving Avera and Sanford health systems, the City of Sioux Falls Health Department and the mayor’s office,” Kiley said.
“We are asking the citizens Sioux Falls by ordinance to respect their neighbors and to help them get through this time until they can receive a vaccine,” Soehl said. “And then our mandate would go away. So that’s what I’m asking for at this point, and I would hope that I could get the rest of the council to at least get us to the second reading.”
“I do appreciate councilor Soehl and councilor Kiley’s efforts through this, their intentions, as I have from the beginning,” councilor Marshall Selberg said. “I will approve this first reading out of respect for that effort and the opportunity, ’cause it is an important topic. It’s worthy of more discussion.”
Councilors Greg Neitzert and Christine Erickson each voted against advancing the ordinance.
“Because some people are fearful, even irrationally fearful, does not mean that we mandate policy,” Neitzert said.
“I’ll support wearing a mask for myself, but I make that choice, and so I will be consistent in my vote and continue voting no with this, because I have firm belief that each and every one of you can make that decision for yourself,” Erickson said.
In the end, the ordinance passed its first reading 6-2.