ST. CLOUD, Minn. (WCCO) — The city of St. Cloud has rejected a proposed mask mandate.

The St. Cloud City Council voted down the measure 4-2 Monday night. The measure would have required the approval of five members.

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Meanwhile, St. Cloud Hospital is still over capacity for intensive care beds, and CentraCare is still receiving help from federal medical teams. Weeks ago, some officials in the hospital system requested a mask mandate from local leaders.

At Monday night’s city council meeting, the proposed three-week mask mandate failed.

“If we put a mask mandate in now, it does nothing but hurt the citizen of St. Cloud,” said Mike Conway, a city council member, during the meeting. “It puts our businesses at risk. There’s no compliance, there’s no enforcement.”

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Mask mandates are in effect in other cities across Minnesota, including Minneapolis and St. Paul, the suburbs of Hopkins and Minnetonka, and Duluth. Still, nearly two years into the pandemic, masks remain controversial.

Steve Laraway, a St. Cloud city council member who also serves on the CentraCare board, said he was disappointed with Monday night’s meeting.

“Sometimes you need to do what you need to do for the public health and the good of the people,” he said, adding: “This is a situation where we were asked [to act].”

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Dave Kleis, the mayor of St. Cloud, said it’s not up to him to put a weeks-long mask ordinance into place. Although he said he did write a letter asking the community to wear masks when inside public places.

Kate Raddatz