BISMARCK — Leaders of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians have mandated the wearing of face masks in all businesses on the tribe's northern North Dakota reservation.
Tribal Chairman Jamie Azure issued the mask order over the weekend for employees and customers of businesses, citing rising COVID-19 cases within the tribe and the high population density of its reservation. Rolette County, which encompasses the reservation, has 20 known active cases of the illness as of Tuesday afternoon, Aug. 4.
"We started out well... but by doing well, we've become complacent," Azure said in a Facebook post. "It's time to reengage with precautions like masks and hand sanitizers."
The order also says businesses must enforce social distancing measures and can only serve customers at 50% of their normal indoor capacity.
The tribe's mask order comes a week after leaders on the Spirit Lake Dakota Reservation mandated mask-wearing in public and instituted a curfew to slow the spread of the virus. Benson County, which includes most of the Spirit Lake reservation, has seen one of the state's fastest-growing outbreaks in recent weeks.
North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum has said he is not in favor of mandating mask-wearing statewide, noting that any order would be hard to enforce and may be an overreach by state government. Burgum's Democratic-NPL opponent, Shelley Lenz, says he should have issued a mandatory mask order more than a month ago when infections began increasing. Active cases have nearly quadrupled since the beginning of July.