Deadwood unanimously enacts mask mandate

DEADWOOD — In a special meeting Monday, the Deadwood City Commission unanimously passed an emergency resolution requiring the wearing of facemasks to slow the spread of COVID-19.

The mandate is effective until Dec. 30. 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.

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.

“We put that in there because we have private businesses contacting the city and asking us to require this so that they have the ability to tell their customers to put masks on,” said Deadwood Mayor David Ruth, Jr. “I, for one, feel it is inappropriate for us to mandate what a private business does, so long as they are following the law and not doing something that is completely illegal. That being said, that’s as far as we go in regards to private business.”

Ruth added that he and other commissioners have received calls from businesses with concerns about the commission extending its reach toward private business.

“Let me assure you that is not our intention,” he said. “Instead, you will notice in section two, it addresses indoor spaces that are owned by the city of Deadwood. It states that spaces owned by the city of Deadwood will follow under this mandate because these are buildings that we control. These are things that we have been doing since the summer, already.”

Within 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 people: younger than 5; while people are eating or drinking, those with a medical condition, people who are swimming or exerting physical activity, public safety workers actively engaged in a public safety role where a face covering would interfere in their duties.

Within the city of Deadwood, a face covering is required in outdoor public places when gathering for more than 15 minutes and/or when six-foot social distancing cannot be achieved, as well as when utilizing public transportation.

“So, as long as people are walking up and down the street and they’re not collecting in large pools for long periods of time, then they would be fine to travel from one business to another,” Ruth said. “Understand that what we are trying to do is encourage people to be more mindful of wearing a mask and helping each other out and helping out their neighbor, even though they don’t necessarily know who their neighbor is or who they’re walking past. It’s important for us to do this, in my mind, because we have so many visitors that come from out of town, that as soon as they leave, they think, ‘Well, I’m just at a playground, I don’t really need to think about those who live and work in Deadwood’.

Ruth said the commission is not trying to shame or strongarm anyone into wearing a mask.

“But we will, politely, ask them to consider helping each other out,” he said.

Commissioner Michael Johnson said he likes the resolution and feels it is full of common sense.

“This resolution allows us to keep Deadwood open,” said Commissioner Sharon Martinisko. “By slowing the spread, being respectful of each other, by wearing a face covering whenever possible, it’s going to do nothing but help business and help our visitors and keep us going.”

Commissioner Gary Todd said if he’s heard any comments, it’s why the city commission didn’t do this earlier.

“Why Deadwood’s having all the special events, inviting all the people,” he said. “I want to continue our special events, but it’s a sad fact that if we continue the trend that we’re on now with the COVID, I think it’s something we’re going to have to consider is to cancel some of our special events. This shows that we’re trying to be responsible and we’re trying to slow the spread and I think it’s necessary.”

Commissioner Charlie Struble said she is in favor of the resolution.

“I think it’s a step in the right direction,” she said.

Todd Weber owner of Shiloh Rescue Ranch and the Stagecoach stop, raised concerns with the outdoor requirement for mask wearing and that it might cause mask shaming or altercations.

“I think the word ‘must’ is a little strong for the outdoor,” he said. “You’re gonna’ affect a lot of businesses in town.”

Deadwood resident Marlin Maynard asked for education to accompany the mask recommendations.

Jill Weber of Shiloh and the Deadwood Stagecoach also addressed the commission with concerns regarding how the mask requirements may drastically affect businesses.

“I don’t necessarily agree with wearing a mask, so I think we differ in that,” Jill said. “So, I just want to make sure that you guys realize that you represent everybody, not just the people that want to wear masks.”

Saloon No. 10 owner Louie Lalonde thanked the commission for the resolution.

“It’s hard to know what the right thing is to do,” she said. “But I think the resolution will work. It allows us to allow patrons into our business. It doesn’t force them, unless we so choose, to wear a mask.”

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