Walz Signs Order Requiring Minnesotans to Wear Masks Indoors
Gov. Tim Walz is requiring Minnesotans to wear face masks to try to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Walz signed an executive order Wednesday requiring Minnesotans to wear a face covering in indoor businesses and indoor public settings. The order takes effect Saturday.
“If we can get a 90 to 95% compliance [rate], which we’ve seen the science shows, we can reduce the infection rates dramatically, which slows that spread and breaks that chain,” said Walz at a press conference today. “And 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.”
So far, 30 states, Washington D.C., and Puerto Rico have issued similar mandates.
People with a medical condition, mental health condition, or disability that makes it unreasonable to maintain a face covering are exempt, as are children 5 and under. Violations are a petty misdemeanor carrying a fine of up to $100.
Republican Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka of Nisswa criticized the idea of a mandate ahead of Walz’s announcement, calling it a “heavy-handed, broad approach that won’t work well for every situation.” In a statement, he noted that many counties have been only lightly affected by the coronavirus.
One of the people who spoke at today’s press conference was Hannah Anderson, the owner of Compass Rose in downtown Bemidji. Anderson spoke about the importance of having a mask mandate, saying she can’t afford to shut down for two weeks if an employee or their family gets sick.