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A woman wears a mask to slow the spread of COVID-19 while riding a train. A group of residents are trying to persuade members of the South Dakota Legislature to adopt a mask mandate, though members seem very unlikely to approve such a measure. 

A coalition, calling itself “United Today, Stronger Tomorrow,” supports a statewide facemask requirement. The group of local organizations is launching a sign-on letter for South Dakota residents. It asks the state Legislature to support Senate Bill 125, which requires masks in all businesses across the state “where 6-foot social distancing cannot be achieved or maintained.”

According to the United Today, Stronger Tomorrow release, the bill is being brought forward by Sen. Reynold Nesiba, D-Sioux Falls. According to the bill language, the requirement includes no penalty and expires in 100 days, similar to mask ordinances passed in both Sioux Falls and Brookings.

Though the bill might not have any penalties attached, Dave Bushaw with the coalition clarified. “So, as we understand the law, a business owner has the right to ask anyone to leave if the business chooses to comply with this mask requirement. Refusal to leave would immediately shift the scenario to a trespassing or another public disturbance issue which, by the discretion and right of the business owner, could involve law enforcement intervention to remove the patron. This is similar to examples such as smoking indoors, not wearing shoes or a shirt, ect.,” Bushaw said. “As for the committee discussions, SB-125 is expected to be assigned to a committee next week as we currently understand.”

“The mask requirements have been successfully implemented in cities across the state, including Sioux Falls, Brookings, Vermillion, Huron, and others. They have alleviated the burden on small businesses, kept workers employed, and helped keep local economies operating,” Bushaw added.

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