Minnesotans will be required to wear masks in indoor spaces, including stores and public spaces, by an order of Gov. Tim Walz to be formally announced this afternoon at a 2 p.m. press conference, …
Speculation that a mask mandate was coming had been growing in recent weeks as the number of daily cases of COVID-19 shot upwards amid growing evidence that Minnesotans weren’t voluntarily using masks at high enough levels.
“Right now, there's no better way to demonstrate our Minnesotan values than by wearing a mask,” Walz said. “By combatting the spread of Covid-19, masking will help protect our neighbors, keep our businesses open, and get us on track to return to the activities we love
This is the least intrusive, the best cost-effective measure, and probably could be the most impactful of anything we could do.”
Walz and the Republican governors of Indiana and Ohio all imposed mandatory mask requirements on their states today, pushing the number of states with mask mandates to 28.
At numerous points in his opening statement and during subsequent questioning by the media, Walz referred to President Donald Trump’s statement on Tuesday supporting the use of masks by all Americans because “they have an impact.”
“The President’s statement, think how stunning this is,” Walz said. “We went from it’s going to go away, we have 15 cases, it will magically disappear, the heat will do that, to it is going to get worse before it gets better. That’s what the president told us yesterday. I think it’s dawning on people we’re in it for the long haul.”
Under Walz’s executive order, which goes into effect at 11:59 p.m. on Friday, anyone over the age of five years is required to wear a mask covering their mouth and nose in any indoor business or public indoor space, including when waiting outdoors to enter an indoor business or public indoor space. Indoor space includes buses, taxis, and other forms of public transportation.
Outside workers also must wear masks it they are unable to maintain social distancing.
People with medical conditions, mental health conditions, or disabilities who would be compromised by wearing a mask are exempt from the order.
Individuals who violate the order are subject to a misdemeanor citation and a $100 fine. Businesses are subject to fines from $1,000 to $25,000, possible jail time, and regulatory enforcement if they fail to comply.
The Minnesota Department of Health has a Frequently Asked Questions webpage about the face mask requirement that can be found HERE.
Another MDH webpage has more extensive information, including industry-specific guidance and links to other resources for business, that can be accessed HERE.
This is a developing story that will be updated as necessary.