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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey on Thursday signed an emergency regulation which will require people in the city to wear cloth face masks or coverings when they’re in any public indoor spaces.

The mayor says this is a way of formalizing doing what’s best for public health, but also said the intention is not “criminalizing forgetfulness,” and that the plan would not be to penalize people for lack of awareness.

“This is about our values in the city of Minneapolis, and those values are looking out for one another. Those values are looking out for your neighbor, and understanding that even if something doesn’t necessarily impact you directly, it could impact your family, it could impact your friends,” Frey said.

The order pertains to retail stores, hotels, government buildings, schools and universities, the skyway system, recreational facilities, and service centers.

The ways this rule can be enforced is with a warning letter, a citation to city-licensed businesses, and a misdemeanor charge.

“We are cracking down on people that have this blatant disregard for people’s health around them,” he said.

Minneapolis businesses aren’t required to provide masks to customers or employees, but employers are required to mandate the use of masks by their staff. Businesses will have the right to refuse entry to anyone not wearing a mask.

The emergency regulation will go into effect Tuesday, May 26. The city wants all non-compliance reports to be made through the 311 phone line.

There is no statewide requirement for wearing a face mask or covering in public, though a number of other U.S. states have enacted requirements in certain environments, such as New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

A national poll this week from Quinnipiac University found that 64% of Americans think masks should be required in public. Frey believes that attitude will prevail in Minneapolis.

“Residents recognize the need here,” Frey said.

On Thursday, the Minnesota Department of Health reported 32 more deaths due to novel coronavirus. That is the highest number of COVID-19 fatalities recorded in Minnesota since the outbreak began. The state’s death toll now stands at 809.

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David Schuman

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