SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — While South Dakota has no statewide COVID-19 restrictions, several South Dakota cities this week approved citywide mask mandates to slow the surging spread of the pandemic, a move encouraged by healthcare providers.

Sioux Falls, Mitchell and Huron instituted mask mandates this week, while Rapid City advanced an masking ordinance. Brookings has had a mask mandate in place since early September. Several cities had previously mandated mask wearing by city employees and in city buildings.

Not every mandate came with an enforcement provision. But every mandate approved or under consideration specified face coverings could include paper or cloth masks, scarves, bandanas or neck gaiters. They also offered a mixed but broad array of exemptions for young children, those eating or drinking, those doing sports or physical activities and those with medical or mental conditions.

Here's the current state of city mask mandates in South Dakota:

Huron

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The Huron City Commission unanimously approved a mask mandate on Monday, Nov. 16, reported the Huron Daily Plainsman. The mandate requires people wear masks in indoor business, public places on city property and city events.

The commission approved the mandate after hearing from 13 residents on the issue, the Huron newspaper said. “I believe this is the best we can do at this time,” said Commissioner Doug Kludt, who said he wanted to see further action taken.

  • Enacted: Monday, Nov. 16
  • Term: 30 days
  • Enforcement: No

Mitchell

Mitchell Mayor Bob Everson signed an executive order implementing a citywide mask mandate Tuesday, Nov. 17. The mandate requires people to wear masks or face coverings inside all buildings within city limits, and threatens fines for noncompliance as well as further legal actions for multiple violations. The fine amounts weren't specified.

Everson implemented the mandate as an emergency executive order, after the Mitchell City Council had approved a first reading of the mask mandate ordinance. The council will review the ordinance at a second reading on Monday, Nov. 23.

“The most important part of this is to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and protect the lives of people around us,” City Council member Susan Tjarks said. “I wear a mask because I care. What we have been doing has not been working.”

  • Enacted: Tuesday, Nov. 17
  • Term: 60 days, City Council will review Nov. 23
  • Enforcement: Yes

Sioux Falls

The Sioux Falls City Council voted 6-2 to approve a mask mandate on Tuesday, Nov. 17, after Mayor Paul TenHaken torpedoed a similar measure a week prior on a tie-break vote.

TenHaken said before the vote that new backing from health care organizations in the state changed his mind, as did the new version's lack of an enforcement mechanism. City council members who changed their votes on the mandate echoed TenHaken's position, saying support from the state medical association and Sioux Falls-based Avera Health helped change their minds.

"We've heard time and again that our hospital systems, our medical providers, are just stressed beyond stressed," said Councilor Rick Kiley, a co-sponsor of the mandate. "I think it's time that we respond to them."

  • Enacted: Tuesday, Nov. 17
  • Term: 60 days
  • Enforcement: No

Rapid City

Rapid City Mayor Steve Allender cast a tie-breaking vote on Thursday, Nov. 19, to move a public mask mandate for the city to a second hearing and potential passage, according to the Rapid City Journal. As written, the emergency ordinance would include fines as high as $500 and require masks to be worn in any enclosed facility, including retail stores, restaurants, bars and gyms. A second hearing date has not yet been set.

“It’s not asking for you to give up your freedoms, it’s not asking for you to do some great thing, great sacrifice to wear a mask,” said council member Greg Strommen, reported the Rapid City Journal. “This mandate is so narrow, but it will help to suppress the disease and it will help us to get back to some sense of normalcy. At least until we get a vaccine, we have to take some more drastic measures because the times are drastic.”

  • Enacted: Still under consideration, second hearing date not set
  • Term: Until Jan. 1
  • Enforcement: Yes

Brookings

Brookings first approved a public mask mandate on Sept. 8, becoming the first city in South Dakota to do so amid the fall virus surge, on a 6-2 city council vote. Violations of the ordinance could draw fines of up to $200.

The city council voted Oct. 27 to renew the measure on a 5-2 vote, after hearing from local health care executives about the burden the pandemic is placing on health care facilities and workers, reported the Brookings Register.

“I think now is definitely not the time for us to be letting up,” said council member Holly Tilton Byrne, the Register reported.

  • Enacted: Sept. 8, renewed Oct. 27
  • Length: 60 days, has been renewed once
  • Enforcement: Yes