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ENFORCING MASKS: Rochester businesses discuss regulating new mandate

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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) -- Rochester is asking its residents to mask up. The city is now two days into the new requirement, instructing residents to wear face masks in public indoor places.

For businesses like On Track Boutique, it's not a huge change.

Hers and On Track Boutique co-owner Bruce Dahlstorn says they've been enforcing face masks for a while. "If everyone is expected to do it, it makes it easier for us to enforce it," Dahlstorn said.

"We started doing this early on, put signs on the doors so that when people came they knew what the expectation was," Hers and On Track Boutique co-owner Bruce Dahlstorn said.

Even, a sigh of relief.

"If everyone is expected to do it, it makes it easier for us to enforce it," Dahlstorn said.

A similar reaction at Tilson's Auto Repair.

"It's actually been really easy. We put a sign on the our door asking customers to wear a mask," Tilson's Auto Repair General Manager Ben Tilson said.

Tilson's Auto Repair posted a sign outside its shop reading "Per Rochester City ordinance we ask all customers to please wear masks, or use our drop box."

So far, the Rochester Police Department hasn't dealt with any disobedience related to the mandate.

"Reports I'm hearing form officers and what I've been seeing myself is that there is a high level of compliance," RPD LT. Tom Faudskar said.

But what if there isn't compliance? Faudskar says it boils down to trespassing. If a situation arises where a customer won't wear and mask, and refuses to leave, that's when police can get involved. If the situation escalates, the trespassing could evolve into a citation, which could potentially lead to an arrest. Although, Faudskar doesn't see this happening.

Rochester Police Deparment Lt. Tom Faudskar says the department has seen a "high level of compliance" with the mask mandate.

"Our officers have trained for years to deescalate some of those situations where you would say we have a low government interest in doing enforcement.," Faudskar said. "We have a great relationship, I feel like, with the citizens in Rochester and a lot of those situations are resolved with just a conversation and it doesn't lead to a citation or arrest."

Dahlstorn says he hasn't been met with much resistance.

"Very few. Maybe two percent of the people say 'well, I'm not going to shop here,' and walk out," he said.

On the other hand, what if a business isn't actively enforcing masks Faudskar says it would be handled in a similarly to the governor's peace time emergency orders, where a community action team would confront an individual or group if a regulation wasn't being followed.

"If a situation were to arise, we would make contact with the business, have a discussion and things would go from there," he said.

Faudskar says so far in the COVID-19 climate, there have not been any arrests related to breaking the governor's peace-time emergency orders and he expects a similar outcome with Rochester's mask mandate.

The department has gotten a few questions and concerns over the mask mandate. He asks Rochester residents direct those comments to the city's COVID-19 Hotline (507-328-2822). It's open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. You can also address concerns about businesses not complying or enforcing the order to the hotline as well.


Beret Leone

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