Deadwood extends mask mandate to March 31

With the COVID-19 pandemic ongoing, the Deadwood City Commission passed a resolution that extends its mask mandate and requires face coverings in indoor properties and transportation owned by the city of Deadwood, as well as outdoor public spaces owned by the city when gathering for more than 15 minutes and/or when six-foot social distancing cannot be achieved or maintained. Pioneer photo by Jaci Conrad Pearson

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DEADWOOD — Continue to mask up in Deadwood, please.

Monday, upon expiration of its former mask mandate Dec. 30, the Deadwood City Commission unanimously approved a second resolution re-enacting the mask mandate by once again requiring the wearing of face coverings in certain situations to slow the community spread of COVID-19.

Todd Weber owner of Shiloh Rescue Ranch and the Stagecoach stop, addressed the commission saying that while he is not against wearing masks, he feels that the language of the mandate is stronger than it should be.

“The wording that goes through our social media … is very absolute,” Weber said, adding that it may confuse people who think they have to wear a mask everywhere and at all times. “If you could explain it to them in language that is immediately understandable, then we would still have people coming to our town. And, believe me, the support that we got from people New Year’s and the whole week between Christmas and New Year’s was amazing. But how many were chased off … I think it needs to be explained a lot better or it drives people away.”

Deadwood Mayor David Ruth, Jr. said he appreciated Weber’s comments, but pointed out that the city saw a 40% increase in trolley ridership over the weekend.

“That is, comparing to a weekend when there was no mask mandate,” Ruth said. “We thank people for doing their part. I understand that there are those who will read a headline and not read further, so I’m not sure that putting it in any other language will encourage them to do that, other than to simply reply as you have, by simply saying, ‘Please read it.’ And by reading it, you will understand that it is public. It isn’t private, that it’s areas where we’re already doing these things and have been doing these things since the end of summer.”

Ruth said that Deadwood needs to educate people on what its expectations are when they are in a public building.

“I just encourage everyone to take the time and read before they react,” Ruth said. “And that’s really all I can do because without doing it, we get the same reaction the other direction.”

The resolution addresses four sectors: private businesses, indoor public spaces owned by the city of Deadwood, outdoor public spaces owned by the city of Deadwood, and public transportation owned by the city of Deadwood.

A face covering is required in indoor public places owned by the city of Deadwood. The restriction does not apply to an individual if they are: younger than 5, eating or drinking, with a medical condition, swimming or exerting physical activity, public safety workers actively engaged in a public safety role, such as law enforcement, firefighters, and emergency personnel where a face covering would seriously interfere in the performance of responsibilities.

A face covering is required in outdoor public places when gathering for more than 15 minutes and/or when 6-foot social distancing cannot be achieved or maintained, as well as when utilizing public transportation. The same aforementioned exceptions apply.

Private businesses have the ability to mandate and enforce mask requirements as they deem fit. Patrons not abiding by posted requirements as established by the business can be asked to vacate the premises. Failure to vacate may result in a criminal prosecution under SDCL 22-35-6, entering and remaining after notice, a Class 1 misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and $2,000 in fines.

Commissioner Sharon Martinisko, who made the motion to pass the resolution, said as a city commissioner she takes pride in the fact that city officials wish to protect city staff and city-owned public places.

“We made it really clear that we are not influencing in the private sector, or would we go there,” she said. “This is just a way to show that this is what we expect out of ourselves as leaders to protect our own staff and public buildings. And I do appreciate you, Todd, coming forward, but it is not an infringement on anybody to ask for this.”

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