MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It’s official: Minnesota will be implementing a statewide mask mandate to slow the spread of COVID-19.

On Wednesday afternoon, Gov. Tim Walz announced he’s issuing an executive order for a mask mandate, which will require the wearing of a face mask inside indoor public places as well as businesses, unless the individual is alone. Additionally, workers will be required to wear face coverings if working outside where social distancing is not possible.

It will go into effect Saturday, July 25.

“COVID-19 has impacted every corner of our state and every aspect of our lives,” Walz said. “But as Minnesotans always do during tough times, we come together and we take care of one another. And right now there’s no better way to demonstrate our Minnesotan values than by wearing a mask. By combating the spread of COVID-19, masking will help protect our neighbors, keep our businesses open, and get us on track to return to the activities we love.”

RELATED: Mixed Reactions From Minnesotans Over New Statewide Mask Mandate

State officials say types of face covering can include a paper or disposable mask, a cloth mask, a neck gaiter, a scarf, a bandanna, or religious face covering. The mask must cover the nose and mouth completely.

As far as enforcement, state officials say consequences for not complying with the order can include petty misdemeanor citations and fines. However Walz said that he hopes law enforcement will be handing out masks to those not wearing one, instead of tickets.

MORE: Face Covering Requirements and Recommendations under Executive Order 20-81 (MDH)

The governor’s announcement came during a news conference with both health officials and business owners. Walz has said previously that business leaders have been telling his administration that they support the mask requirement.

“We’ve got to wear masks to keep our economy open and to pave the way to open it even further,” said Minnesota Commissioner of Employment and Economic Development Steve Grove.

Some Republicans, including Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, have already criticized the mask mandate. Gazelka went as far as to call the mandate “terrible.” Walz did not mince words when asked about Gazelka’s position.

RELATED: ‘This Assault On Our Liberties Must End!’: Republican Critics Decry Gov. Walz’s Mask Mandate

“I’m sorry he does not want to deal with where the facts and where the infectious disease experts are at … He is simply wrong. Wrong on the science,” Walz said.

The decision means Minnesota will join the growing list of states implementing face mask mandates. Those states include much of the eastern seaboard and west coast, along with many southern states, including Texas.

As of Wednesday, midwest states like Wisconsin, Iowa, and the Dakotas have not implemented face mask mandates.

RELATED: More Than 500 New COVID-19 Cases Reported, 4 More Deaths

Pressure to make a decision on face masks has been mounting as the start of the school year looms.

Previously, Walz said the simplest thing that can be done to get students back in class this fall — and to keep businesses open — is for everyone to wear a mask. The governor also criticized some Republican lawmakers for not supporting the mandate, saying he wished everyone could get together and “take the leap together.”

A decision on school in the fall is expected next week.

MORE: Follow updates on Pat Kessler’s Twitter page.

Last week, the Minnesota Hospital Association urged Walz to implement a statewide mask mandate. Many cities in Minnesota, along with major retailers across the country, have already implemented face mask policies.

The face mask policy does not replace other COVID-19 safety precautions, said Dr. Leslie Baken, a North Memorial Health and Infectious Disease Practitioner. Minnesotans should continue to socially distance, wash hands, and stay inside if they believe they have been infected with COVID-19.

Comments (5)