MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Mask up, Minnesota! Saturday marks the first day of the statewide mask mandate.
In a step towards slowing the spread of COVID-19, people in Minnesota are now required to wear a face covering in all indoor business and public indoor spaces, unless they are alone. Workers are also required to wear a mask if they are working outdoors in a situation where social distancing is not possible.
Gov. Tim Walz announced the executive order Wednesday. Some cities, including Minneapolis, Duluth, and Rochester, had already required masks in public indoor places.
State officials say face coverings can include a paper or disposable mask, a cloth mask, a neck gaiter, a scarf, bandana, or religious face covering. The masks must cover your nose and mouth.
This week, Minneapolis made the White House Coronavirus Task Force list of cities needing to take aggressive action because of a surge in COVID-19 cases. The state's top health experts say increased social interaction is a major driver of that.
However, Minnesota's Republicans have criticized Walz's mandate.
Jason Lewis, who is currently running for a U.S. Senate seat, called the mandate an unconstitutional power grab. "This assault on our liberties must end," he said in a tweet.
On the other hand, scientific research shows face coverings reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection. Because the virus is mostly spread through respiratory droplets released when people talk, wearing masks helps limit the spread of the droplets.
STAY INFORMED: FAQ About The Requirement To Wear Face Coverings
Consequences for not complying with the order can include petty misdemeanor citations and fines. Walz says he hopes law enforcement will be handing out masks, not tickets.
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