Minnesota requires public mask usage


Minnesota Governor Tim Walz announced Executive Order 20-81, requiring Minnesotans to wear a face covering in all public indoor spaces and indoor businesses, unless they are alone. The mandate goes into effect on Saturday, July 25.

The Thunder Bay District Health Unit adopted a similar policy, which will go into effect on Friday, July 24. It came in the form of a directive, which requires every business in the TBDHU catchment region to create a policy, which require all employees and public who enter an enclosed public space to wear a mask or face covering. The TBDHU provided sample policies for businesses to adopt. Businesses will also be required to train employees on the mask policy, post signs to notify staff and the public about the policy, and be able to produce the policy in writing upon request from a public health inspector.

Mask policies have been implemented in a number of health regions across Ontario. So far, the Northwestern Health Unit is encouraging the public to wear masks in enclosed public spaces, but has not made them mandatory.

Types of face coverings allowed in Minnesota, once their new Order goes into effect are: a disposable mask, a cloth mask, a neck gaiter, a scarf, a bandanna, or a religious face covering. The face covering must cover the nose and mouth completely. The covering should not be overly tight or restrictive and should feel comfortable to wear.

People exempted from the Minnesota face covering requirement

  • Children under age 2 years must not wear face coverings. Children between the ages of 2 and 5 years old are not required to wear face coverings, but are encouraged to wear a face covering when in public if they can do so reliably in compliance with CDC guidelines (i.e., without frequently touching or removing the face covering).
  • People who have medical or other health conditions, disabilities, or mental health, developmental, or behavioral needs that make it difficult to tolerate wearing a face covering.
  • Any person who has trouble breathing, is unconscious, sleeping, incapacitated, or is otherwise unable to remove the face covering without assistance.
  • People at their workplace when wearing a face covering would create a safety hazard to the person or others as determined by local, state, or federal regulators or workplace safety guidelines.
  • Alternatives to masks such as clear face shields may be considered for those with health conditions or situations where wearing a mask is problematic. Face shields may also be used as an alternative to face coverings when specifically permitted in the applicable industry guidance.

When are Minnesotans required to wear a face covering

  • In all public indoor spaces and businesses, including when waiting outside to enter the public indoor space or business.
  • When riding on public transportation such as buses or trains, or in a taxi, ride-sharing vehicle, or vehicle that is being used for a business purpose.
  • For workers only: When working outdoors in situations where social distancing (i.e., maintaining physical distance of at least six feet from other individuals who are not in the same household) cannot be maintained.
  • When present in a business, whether indoor or outdoor, that has elected to require face coverings. Businesses are allowed to require face coverings even in situations where face coverings are not otherwise required by Executive Order 20-81.
  • When applicable industry guidance, available at the Stay Safe Minnesota website, specifically requires face coverings.