Muscatine Police Department waiting to enforce city-wide mask mandate

Published: Jul. 6, 2020 at 6:18 PM CDT
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MUSCATINE, Iowa (KCRG) - In Muscatine on Monday, a mask mandate took effect requiring residents to wear a face covering in all public, indoor and outdoor spaces.

As of Monday, there were 641 positive tests for COVID-19 in Muscatine County since the pandemic began, including 49 new positive tests on the first day of the mandate. Even with the mandate in place, there are still questions over whether a local government in Iowa can issue and then enforce this type of rule.

“Seeing everything on television about how people are not distancing themselves, it may be necessary, there could be a second wave of things happening,” Karen Diercks, owner of Flower Gallery, said.

Diercks said before, she wasn’t requiring her customers to wear a mask. She said she didn’t want to offend any customers, but now, it’s out of her hands.

“I think it’s like anything, it’s just like when we first had to wear seat belts. We felt our privileges were being taken away,” Diercks said. “But after a while, you settle in and you don’t give it a second thought when you put your seat belt on.”

The Muscatine Police Department is taking a pause before enforcing the new mask rule.

“When we’re tasked with the enforcement of mandates, and so forth, we obviously have to figure out where our legal ground is and protect ourselves and the city from further civil liability, should there be some out of enforcement action. So that’s kind of where we are cautious with it,” Capt. Steve Snider, of the Muscatine Police Department, said.

Snider said the Muscatine County Attorney is working with Iowa Attorney General’s office to determine if the local government can issue this type of mandate. He said, if so, citations won’t be issued immediately.

“There will certainly be a period of time in there where we’re not going to be issuing any citations and helping the public to become more educated about the proclamation and the requirement for the mask,” Snider said.

Snider said he understands there are pros and cons to the mandate, but he hopes the public voluntarily participates in wearing a mask, saying the community needs to work together.

“It certainly does seem to be evidence out there that it helps slow the spread of the virus, and that’s, I think, what everybody is after,” Snider said. “And keeping everybody safe is ultimately, I think, the mayor’s goal with this. We are certainly supportive of it and we will certainly help in that aspect however we can.”

There are exceptions to the mandate. You can read the full mandate here.

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