“Wearing a mask is an important and safe tool in the fight to slow the spread of COVID-19 along with maintaining social distancing, washing your hands, staying home when you’re sick and getting tested if you have symptoms. These are all ways that Minnesotans can practice good health. Wearing a mask is important because the virus can be spread by people who don’t have symptoms or know they are sick,” said Dan Hauser, APR, Director, Communications, Educations and Events of the Minnesota Medical Association in a press release.
Governor Tim Walz announced on July 25, 2020 that Executive Order 20-81 (EO 20-81) would take effect. EO 20-81 mandates the wearing of masks or face coverings in indoor businesses and indoor public settings. At the time of the Minnesota mandate 30 states across the country had also implemented similar mandates.
Individuals with medical conditions, mental health conditions, or disability that makes it unreasonable for the individual to maintain face covering are exempt from the order. These individuals should consider alternatives to face coverings, including clear face shields and staying home as much as possible.
Children five years old and under are also exempt from the mandate. Those under the age of two should never wear a face mask due to the risk of suffocation.
Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development and the Minnesota Department of Health are working together to distribute masks to underserved communities and businesses across Minnesota.
The goal of the EO 20-81 is voluntary compliance, not enforcement. However, any individual who willfully violates EO 20-81 is guilty of a petty misdemeanor and upon conviction can be punished by a fine not to exceed $100. Businesses willfully violating EO 20-81 are guilty of a misdemeanor and can be punished by a fine not to exceed $1,000 or up to 90 days in jail. The Attorney General, cities and counties may also seek civil penalties from businesses who are in violation of this order.