The Dubuque City Council has unanimously adopted a city ordinance that requires everyone within the city limits to wear a face covering, with some exceptions. The mandate will go into effect on Saturday, Aug. 8, but enforcement will not begin until Monday, Aug. 10.

The action comes a week after the city of Dubuque and Dubuque County were both identified as COVID-19 “red zones” for elevated dangers of spreading COVID-19, according to the latest report from the White House Coronavirus Task Force. One of the task force’s recommendations for public officials in red zones is “ensure that all business retailers and personal services require masks and can safely social distance.” Recommended public messaging includes, “Wear a mask at all times outside the home and maintain physical distance.”

Iowa is also listed as one of the “red zone” states in the report which identifies “red zones” as “those core-based statistical areas (CBSAs) and counties that during the last week reported both new cases above 100 per 100,000 population, and a diagnostic test positivity result above 10 percent.” Dubuque County is one of eight Iowa red zone counties and the city of Dubuque is one of three red zone Iowa metro areas.

The amended Dubuque ordinance requires every person in the city of Dubuque three years of age and older to wear a face covering that covers the person’s nose and mouth as follows:

  • Outside whenever one cannot stay at least six feet away from others.
  • Inside any indoor public setting, for example, but not limited to:
    • Grocery stores.
    • Pharmacies.
    • Hardware stores.
    • Retail stores.
    • Any other indoor public setting when with persons who do not live in the person’s household.
  •  When using public transportation or a private car service, including taxis, ride sharing, or carpooling.

People are not required to wear a face covering:

  • While traveling in a personal vehicle alone or with household members.
  • While a person is alone or in the presence of only household members.
  • While outside, if keeping six feet away from others is possible.
  • While exercising at moderate or high intensity, such as jogging or biking.
  • While seated at a food establishment in the process of eating or drinking.
  • While obtaining a service that would require temporary removal of the person’s face covering.
  • When federal or state law prohibits wearing a face covering or requires the removal of the face covering.

The following persons are exempt from wearing a face covering:

  • Persons two years of age and younger.
  •  Anyone who has difficulty breathing or is on oxygen therapy or a ventilator.
  •  Anyone who is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the face covering without assistance.
  •  Anyone who has been told by a medical, legal, or behavioral health professional not to wear face coverings.
  •  Anyone actively engaged in a public safety role, including but not limited to law enforcement, firefighters, or emergency medical personnel, although a face covering should be worn if possible.
  • A student participating in co-curricular activities when participating according to the Iowa High School Athletic Association rules for wearing face coverings.

Dubuque businesses that are open to the public must post signs at each entrance instructing customers of the legal obligation to wear a face covering while inside the business. No business that is open to the public may provide service to a customer or allow a customer to enter its premises unless the customer is wearing a face covering.

The Dubuque Police Department will enforce the ordinance. Violators will be informed of the ordinance and will be given a face covering. Those who violate the ordinance and refuse to wear a face covering could receive an initial fine of $10. If payment is not made within 30 calendar days, the fine will increase to $15. Violators who choose to contest the fine in court will have to pay court costs. Questions about enforcement may be directed to the Dubuque Police Department at 563-589-4410 or 563-589-4424.

Beginning at 12 a.m. on Monday, Aug. 10, residents who wish to report a violation should call the non-emergency dispatch number, 563-589-4415. Businesses have the right to refuse service to any patron violating any law, including this ordinance. If a patron refuses to comply with any business rule or any law, Dubuque businesses can call the non-emergency dispatch number, 563-589-4415, or 9-1-1 in an emergency situation.

Dubuque residents in need of a mask can stop by any Dubuque Fire Station to receive a free mask. Depending upon staff availability, masks will be available from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

To read the full ordinance amendment and additional information, visit The ordinance will remain in effect until rescinded by City Council.

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