The Potluck

Minneapolis will require face masks inside stores, schools and other public places

By: - May 21, 2020 11:40 am
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey speaking at an event on affordable housing at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis in January 2020. Photo by Max Nesterak/Minnesota Reformer.

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey announced on Thursday an executive order requiring people in Minneapolis to wear cloth face masks or other face coverings when they are in places of public accommodation like retail stores, hotels, government buildings, schools and gyms.

The order takes effect on Tuesday, May 26 and applies to everyone except children younger than 2 years old and those with medical reasons not to wear a mask.

“A disproportionate share of our essential, front-line workers are low-income and people of color, who are already experiencing higher rates of infection,” Frey said. “Wearing a mask will help keep our neighbors safe. Wearing a cloth mask will help keep our loved ones safe.”

The mayor cited medical research that shows cloth masks that can limit the transmission of respiratory droplets which carry the coronavirus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends everyone wear masks in public to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Not wearing a mask is a misdemeanor offense — carrying a maximum penalty of 90 days in jail or a $1,000 fine — although the mayor says the city will focus on compliance through education and outreach.

“We’re not criminalizing forgetfulness. We’re not penalizing people for a lack of awareness,” Frey said. “Here’s what we will be cracking down on: We will not be entertaining extreme selfishness and flagrant disregard of the health and safety of our fellow Minneapolis residents.”

Metro Transit already mandates face coverings on buses and trains. Gov. Tim Walz has so far resisted calls to require face masks statewide as other states have done — including Connecticut, Hawaii and New Jersey — as he gradually rolls back restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19.

Masks have become politically polarizing, but Frey dismissed concerns that the order would further entrench the partisan divide.

“I’m not going to mask my frustration here,” Frey said. “Watching out for the public’s health should not be an ideological issue. It should not be partisan.”

Businesses in Minneapolis will not be required to provide masks under the order, which stays in effect until the mayor rescinds it.

The city will run a mask drive to be distributed to people who need them. People can make donations at fire stations on Memorial Day 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Frey also encourages people to raise public awareness on social media using the hashtag #MaskUpMPLS.

People can report others not wearing masks by calling 311.

Mpls Face Mask Emergency Regulation 2020-12


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Max Nesterak
Max Nesterak

Max Nesterak is the deputy editor of the Reformer and reports on labor and housing. Most recently he was an associate producer for Minnesota Public Radio after a stint at NPR. He also co-founded the Behavioral Scientist and was a Fulbright Scholar to Berlin, Germany.