Bismarck City Commission passes mask mandate with no penalty for noncompliance

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In a nearly six-hour meeting, Bismarck City Commissioners voted 3-2 Tuesday to pass an unenforceable mask mandate for the city.

They officially called it a “Pandemic Mitigation Strategy” that encourages mask-wearing in public spaces indoors. It includes exemptions for religious ceremonies, and has no penalties for noncompliance — one commissioner who voted in favor of it even called it weak.

Commissioner Mark Splonskowski and Mayor Steve Bakken voted against the measure.

“It is not the government’s responsibility to ensure that people don’t get sick,” Splonskowski said. It’s not our responsibility to make sure that people stay healthy because if it was our responsibility we’d shut down half the restaurants in this town.”

The measure will go into effect Nov. 1 and end when the 14-day rolling average positivity rate for Burleigh County is 8 percent or less. Commissioners say they’ll review the strategy at the Dec. 8 meeting.


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