Gov. Walz Says Mask Mandate Will Help Keep Businesses Open, Infection Rate Down

As of Saturday masks will be required in all indoor public spaces.

MINNESOTA- On Wednesday, Minnesota joined over two dozen other states in requiring masks to be worn in all indoor public places statewide. That new Executive Order by Governor Tim Walz goes into effect Saturday morning. You can find the full executive order here.

“This is a small sacrifice for a potentially big gain,” Gov. Walz said. “The upside of the mask wearing and the compliance is big. We’ve made a lot of good decisions — we don’t want to slide backwards.”

According to the Governor, a mask mandate is the best way to keep the ever-persistent COVID-19 from spreading faster, and keep him from having to close down businesses again because of a surge in positive cases.

“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 we all miss so much,” he said.

Meanwhile, Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan at the press conference Wednesday spoke about the effects of COVID-19 on a very personal note.

“Four months ago yesterday, I lost my brother Ron Golden to complications from COVID-19,” said Flanagan. “He had recently started treatment for cancer and his immune system was compromised.”

“I pick up the phone regularly to send him a text, or a cute photo of his niece — and then I remember that he’s gone,” she said.

Flanagan said she recognizes that wearing masks in all indoor public places may be an adjustment for some.

“I just want to be clear that we’re not introducing this mask mandate to be a drag, or for some folks who may be politically on different sides of the aisle,” she said. “I don’t want your family to have to experience what my family has gone through.”

According to Jan Malcolm, Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Health, in the past two weeks states without a mask mandate, saw their cases go up 79%.

Cases where masks are required — only saw a 16% rise in new cases, Malcolm said.

“We’re looking for that day when there is 0 deaths, We’re looking for that day where we drop below 550 new cases then to double digits and then to single digits, that’s the goal,” said the Governor. “That’s what the mask mandate does.”

The state government is working with chambers of commerce in each county to distribute 4 million masks throughout Minnesota, for businesses that may need them.

Walz also aims to make sure all police officers in the state have masks on hand. “I want them handing out masks, not tickets,” he said.

While he hopes the state achieves 90-95% compliance, there are penalties for violating the Executive Order; which can include petty misdemeanor citations and fines for people and criminal, civil, and regulatory sanctions on businesses.

Workers who enter a persons’s home or assigned living unit for purposes of their job must wear a face covering when doing so.

Child care settings, Kindegarten through Grade 12 schools, and higher education institutions must comply with the face covering and shield guidance found online.

Individuals with a medical condition, mental health conditions, or disability that makes it unreasonable to wear a mask; and children under the age of five are exempt from the order.

But for everyone else, the Lt. Governor said, wearing a mask is the courteous thing to do.

“The best thing that we can do to protect each other, especially those who are at higher risk for severe complications and death is from getting folks sick in the first place by wearing masks,” she said.

“Every death that we prevent is another family, another community, that does not have to experience this kind of grief,” said Flanagan.

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