By virtue of a 4-1 vote, the West Fargo City Commission has enacted a mask strategy at a special meeting tonight.
"This has been a discussion that has been ongoing in the City of West Fargo for weeks and weeks," West Fargo City Commission President Bernie Dardis told WZFG News after the special meeting. "This is really a final appeal to the public of what we're going to do."
He says the strategy has nothing to do with the recent enactments in Fargo or Minot.
West Fargo has a high infection rate, Dardis says, and it is starting to return back into the long term care facilities in both staff and residents.
The New Mask Strategy requires people in West Fargo to wear a face covering over their mouth and nose in buildings where they may encounter people outside of their household and they are unable to keep six feet of distance from them. They are also required to wear a mask in all outdoors settings where they cannot maintain six feet of distance from people outside of their household. It also urgently directs businesses to follow the ND Smart Restart guidelines, which limits customers in their building to 25% capacity with a maximum of 50 people.
Customers entering restaurants, bars, breweries, and similar businesses are encouraged to wear a face covering from the time they enter the building to the time they sit. They should continue to wear their mask if they are not in the process of eating or drinking. Individuals using or operating public transportation, rideshares, Uber, Lyft and taxi services should wear a face covering from pickup to arrival at the destination. It also includes a list of exemptions to the requirement, which includes children younger than school age, with a medical condition or disability that prevents face coverings and certain employment, athletic and other activities.
There is no penalty for not following the New Mask Strategy, but it does support property owners who wish to require masks in their buildings. Ultimately, the New Mask Strategy places responsibility on each individual to wear masks to ensure they are not spreading coronavirus and protecting their family, friends, colleagues and fellow community members.
Dardis pleads with the community to not engage in mask shaming.
"Don't do it, we all have personal rights, we all have a perspective of how we should live our life and our healthy lifestyle," he says. "Don't politicize this. This is important for the public, if you don't do it for yourself, consider doing it for someone you love, someone you work with, your children or your grandchildren."
The mask strategy went into effect at 7 p.m. this evening, and will remain in effect until Governor Doug Burgum adjusts Cass County’s risk level, or Commission President Bernie Dardis or a majority of the West Fargo City Commission decides to change or end the New Mask Strategy.