Sioux Falls city councilor bringing forward mask mandate proposal

Local News

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — To avoid COVID-19, the scientific consensus tells us that wearing a mask is a good step. But it’s not one everyone wants to take. Now, a Sioux Falls city councilor has a mask mandate proposal he’s bringing before the council. Councilor Curt Soehl says his proposal would be for indoor as well as outdoor public places. A violation would mean a misdemeanor citation.

“It does not restrict businesses, it does not restrict occupancy,” Soehl said. “And I encourage people to go about their business, to go Christmas shopping, to go out and go to a sporting event. But wear a mask. We have struggled in this community for months and months and months with asking people, with begging people, with even trying to shame them.”

“I am seriously considering the support and likely would support a common-sense ordinance regarding masks,” Sioux Falls city councilor Rick Kiley said. “Right now I feel that that is probably the least restrictive measure that we can bring forward and expect to have an impact.”

Kiley says he’ll support Soehl’s proposal.

“I will sign on as a second on that particular measure,” Kiley said.

Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken was not available for an interview Monday night, but his office did send KELOLAND News a statement from him: “I haven’t seen any proposed legislation but have been fairly clear that I won’t support unenforceable laws on our books. I have strongly supported the use of all mitigation measures, including masks, but I don’t intend to support mandating any of these measures.”

Both Soehl and Kiley bring up the economy as well as health care workers.

“In my case, I’d like to see it as an effort to keep businesses open and our schools open, and I see it also as a least-restrictive measure or effort to hopefully not overwhelm our health care system,” Kiley said.

“You know what, Dan, I don’t want to bring this,” Soehl said. “I hate wearing masks just as much as anybody else does. But I think it’s for the public good, and it’s certainly good for our economy right now. Keep these businesses in float so they can make some profit for the end of the year, otherwise, there’s so many people that are not going to shop because they are scared to go in a business that’s not wearing masks.”

Now it becomes a matter of counting votes. With TenHaken’s opposition, this proposal would need five votes at both a first and a second reading to become policy. Last week KELOLAND News interviewed councilors Christine Erickson, Marshall Selberg, Janet Brekke and Pat Starr about the idea of a mask mandate. Erickson and Selberg did not speak favorably about it, but Brekke and Starr did. For last week’s and Monday’s story KELOLAND News reached out to councilors Alex Jensen and Greg Neitzert, too, but they both have not been available for an interview.

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