Gov. Walz to impose mask mandate in Minnesota stores, indoor public spaces

Walz has scheduled a 2 p.m. news conference to announce the move.

Gov. Tim Walz is poised to order Minnesotans to wear masks in stores and other indoor public spaces as he tries to avoid a surge in coronavirus cases here.

Walz has scheduled a 2 p.m. news conference to announce the move. He’ll be joined by business owners from Minneapolis and Bemidji and infectious disease experts who say wearing a mask helps slow the virus.

A day earlier, Walz telegraphed his plans by telling reporters “I think you can expect an announcement in the next day or two” on a mask mandate while also promoting the value of the requirement. He said “the businesses tell us we do” need a statewide mandate instead of having scattershot requirements in various cities.

Minnesota’s store owners will be required to hang signs and address non-compliant customers, but the order will not force them to deny service to a non-compliant customer, a source with knowledge of the order said.

The order will take effect Saturday, according to a person briefed on the mandate.

Several Minnesota cities, including Minneapolis at St. Paul, have imposed local mask mandates. Last week, Minneapolis city officials said they would cite three bar owners for allowing customers inside without a mask.

Across the U.S., 28 states have now implemented statewide requirements.

Walz had been holding out, hoping to get Republican lawmakers to buy into to a mask mandate. But the governor said GOP lawmakers refused to go along during the most recent special session, so he’s poised to do it through his broad emergency powers.

Minnesota hospitals sent a letter to Walz last week asking him to mandate mask wearing statewide, saying the state has “a narrow window of time to slow the spread of the virus.”

Many details are not yet known: will masks also be required in outdoor spaces? Can stores assume customers not wearing a mask are doing it for medical reasons? What are the penalties for non-compliance? Will there be a campaign to urge compliance? What about at the voting booth in the Aug. 11 primary?


Categories: Coronavirus, Coronavirus-MN, Health, Minnesota News