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From an Axios e=mail notice:

1 big thing: The metro's mask islands
The circle with a slash emoji repeated on a blue background, with one mask emoji illuminated off-center.
Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios
Minneapolis and St. Paul so far stand alone when it comes to reviving mask mandates in response to rising Omicron cases.
Driving the news: The Duluth City Council became the latest Minnesota city government to reject a mandate Monday night.
  • Local leaders in Bloomington, meanwhile, passed a resolution to encourage, but not require, people to wear masks and follow other guidance from the state and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to curb COVID.
Why it matters: Masking — especially with an N95 or similar face coverings — in crowded indoor spaces is one of the best tools to prevent the virus' spread.
Yes, but: Some local leaders say mandates just aren't effective at this stage of the pandemic, as people who don't want to mask simply won't comply.
  • Gov. Tim Walz has cited that same rationale for why he hasn't sought to implement another statewide rule.
State of play: While the League of Minnesota Cities isn't tracking how many members have mandates, Minneapolis and St. Paul are the only major cities to make headlines with new orders in the new year.
  • Edina also rejected a requirement in favor of a recommendation last week, and city administrators from a number of metro suburbs told the Star Tribune they aren't focused on mandates at this time.
What they're saying: Bloomington Mayor Tim Busse told Axios that he worried about putting the burden of enforcement on retail workers.
  • "Asking the teenager working at Boot Barn at the Mall of America to enforce [a mandate] for someone who comes in without a mask, I just thought that was unfair," he said.
What's next: Minnetonka will weigh its own mandate on Friday.
The bottom line: Even if some cities join in, widespread adoption of mask mandates outside of the borders of Minneapolis and St. Paul appears unlikely at this time.
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