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'This Assault On Our Liberties Must End!': Republican Critics Decry Gov. Walz's Mask Mandate

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Wednesday afternoon, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz announced a statewide face mask mandate that will go into effect Saturday, July 25, and Republican critics are already sounding off.

At about noon, Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R-East Gull Lake) issued a statement questioning the Democratic governor's approach, asking why Minnesota needs a statewide mandate now as opposed to weeks ago, when deaths were at their peak.

"Once again, I find myself asking why one-size-fits-all is the only option for a mask mandate," Gazelka said. "Businesses and individuals are already requiring and wearing masks in most situations, so the mandate feels like a heavy-handed, broad approach that won't work well for every situation."

RELATED: Mixed Reactions From Minnesotans Over New Statewide Mask Mandate

On Twitter, former Republican congressman Jason Lewis, who is currently running for a U.S. Senate seat, called the yet-to-be-announced mandate an unconstitutional power grab.

"This assault on our liberties must end," Lewis tweeted.

RELATED: Minnesota Cities Requiring Masks

Walz addressed Gazelka's statements about the mandate during Wednesday's press conference.

"I'm sorry he does not want to deal with where the facts and where the infectious disease experts are at ... He is simply wrong. Wrong on the science," Walz said.

The mask mandate comes after more than a dozen Minnesota cities, as well as major retailers like Target and Walmart, moved to require masks in indoor spaces. Additionally, Walz's decision comes as state lawmakers and health officials mull over how students will go back to school next month.

For Gazelka, he wants to see the mask mandate coincide with the students returning to in-person classes and the continued reopening of the economy. He also wants answers as to what mechanism will be in place to lift the mandate.

A number of other states, particularly in the south and along the eastern seaboard, have issued mandates, especially as COVID-19 cases in some states surge. No state neighboring Minnesota has issued a statewide mandate.

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