CASS LAKE -- The Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe lifted its mask mandate on Thursday.

At the regular tribal council meeting on June 3, 2021 the council voted to end the mandatory portion of the tribal mask mandate, effective immediately.

Band members, employees and community members are strongly encouraged to continue taking safety precautions and practicing social distancing when possible, especially if unvaccinated or displaying COVID-19 symptoms, according to a release.

Leech Lake has been under a mask mandate since July 16, 2020. The state of Minnesota lifted its mask mandate on May 14.

The use of masks at Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe businesses, offices and other properties will become optional with the exception of health care, congregate living and educational facilities including early childhood and the Bug-O-Nay-Ge-Shig school, the release said.

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Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe Government offices will continue to operate at a limited capacity for the next four weeks with a full reopening date set for July 1.

“We are thankful to our community for masking up and following the COVID safety guidelines over the past 16 months,” said Leech Lake Chairman Faron Jackson, Sr. “This has put us in a position where we can begin taking steps towards returning to pre-pandemic norms. While we move towards this goal, I urge everyone to remain vigilant and strongly encourage everyone to get the vaccine as soon as possible.”