Gov. Walz issues statewide mandate
Gov. Tim Walz announced a statewide mandate last Wednesday, July 22, requiring Minnesotans to wear face masks in stores and indoor gathering places in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19 and prevent a second surge of hospitalizations and deaths.
Minnesota joins approximately 30 other states that have imposed similar mask-wearing requirements in the absence of any federal act and despite sharply polarized political views.
“If we can get a 90 to 95 percent compliance, which we’ve seen the science shows, we can reduce the infection rates dramatically, which slows that spread and breaks that chain,” Walz said. “This is the way, the cheapest, the most effective way for us to open up our businesses, for us to get our kids back in school, for us to keep our grandparents healthy and for us to get back that life that we all miss so much.”
The rule applies to most indoor spaces (except homes) and also outdoor spaces where workers cannot maintain social distancing.
Exceptions are as follows—Diners need to wear masks when walking around restaurants, but not when eating at tables. Office workers don’t need to wear them in isolated cubicles, but do need to mask up on trips to the bathroom or water cooler. Children ages two and younger are exempt because of suffocation hazards, along with people with special medical conditions.
Individuals who flout the order could face petty misdemeanor fines of up to $100. Businesses that fail to comply could face misdemeanor fines of up to $1,000. Walz said the focus will be on compliance, not enforcement, and that he wants to see officers “handing out masks, not tickets.”
“We’re not trying to make anyone a criminal,” he said. “We’re trying to educate and get people to buy into this.”
The state is circulating four million masks to local business and government organizations, so people will have access to them if needed.