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City of Sioux City to require face coverings in its buildings
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City of Sioux City to require face coverings in its buildings

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Sioux City City Hall clock tower

SIOUX CITY -- Visitors and staff will be required to wear face coverings while inside Sioux City's City Hall and other city buildings, beginning Wednesday. 

The mandate announced Friday is in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Facial coverings are thought to impede the spread of the novel coronavirus when in public spaces. 

City officials said the requirement will remain in place until further notice. 

In a statement Friday, the city also again addressed why a a citywide mask mandate is not legally possible.  The city's legal department is citing a June 23 letter from the Iowa Attorney General's Office affirming that mask requirements are the prerogative of Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds. 

Because Reynolds has a public health proclamation in effect, a local official can't implement requirements that conflict with the state rules, the governor said. 

The city does, however, have the legal authority to require face coverings in its own properties. Businesses likewise have the right to require face coverings inside their premises, and some major retailers like Walmart and Sam's Club have announced that shoppers will be asked to wear masks. 

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Reynolds has resisted calls to issue a statewide mask mandate, even as governors in neighboring Minnesota and Illinois have begun requiring them.

The mask issue has come up in other Iowa communities. 

On July 14, after Muscatine's mayor issued a mask order, Reynolds said local officials need the governor's approval for such rules. The Mayor of Iowa City this week issued his own mask mandate in defiance of the governor's position, though his authority to do so remains unclear.

A number of Sioux Cityans have asked the city to require face coverings citywide, despite the legal obstacles. 

Mayor Bob Scott said earlier this week that while he believes a mandate could help slow the spread of the virus, he would defer to the governor's authority. 

"It is a non-starter, because the governor has already said you cannot," Scott told the Journal. 

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