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City Council passes penalty-free mask ordinance

Wearing a mask is now required in Jamestown for anyone within 6 feet of a person who is not part of the person's household in most situations. The ordinance applies both indoors and outdoors

The emergency resolution passed the City Council Thursday on a 4-0 vote following a debate that involved adding a penalty to the resolution. The resolution includes 10 exceptions to the mask mandate including actively eating or drinking, participation in sports and children or adults with disabilities, among others.

"For a mandate to have any weight there needs to be some sort of penalty," said Councilman David Schloegel. "It is the responsibility of the council not to just strongly ask, but to have a mandate."

Schloegel also said it would be an opportunity for Jamestown to lead among the cities of North Dakota by being among the first to take a strong stance regarding wearing masks.

There was no discussion of what the penalty would be.


The topic arose as the number of cases of COVID-19 is climbing in Stutsman County.

The North Dakota Department of Health reported 128 positive tests Thursday from 732 tests processed for a daily positivity rate of 18.2% The Department of Health website also showed 504 active cases in Stutsman County at this time. Both the daily positive tests and the active cases reported Thursday are the highest reported since the start of the pandemic in March.

The high number of cases reported in Stutsman County prompted Jamestown Regional Medical Center to implement a surge plan to make more beds available at the hospital for anticipated increases in patients.

"It is important to consider the health and safety of the community," Schloegel said. "... at the end of the day, we're looking at a hospital that is running out of beds."

Jamestown Mayor Dwaine Heinrich said the city did not have the authority to make not wearing a mask a crime under the emergency proclamation adopted by the city at the start of the pandemic in March.

"Businesses can enforce this," he said. "A business could call law enforcement to remove a person from their business without a mask."

Scott Edinger, Jamestown police chief, said there is a "universal concern" among law enforcement agencies about the constitutionality of laws requiring people to wear masks.

"If a business calls about a person not wearing a mask we will investigate," he said.


Councilman David Steele said the measure was an effort to make members of the public take responsibility for their actions and wear a mask.

"We are not asking for people to wear a mask forever," he said, referring to the possibility of a vaccine in the future.

Schloegel said he hoped the emergency measure would improve public cooperation in dealing with the increasingly serious pandemic.

"From this discussion, I hope the public understands how concerned the City Council is," he said.

Face masks and social distance
A small group of people gathered outside the Stutsman County Museum Monday, Sept. 21, 2020, for a brief observance of the International Day of Peace. The Jamestown Rotary Club hosted the event around the Peace Pole. John M. Steiner / The Sun

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