MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minnesota’s mask mandate officially starts at midnight Friday.

Face coverings will be required in most indoor areas.

That includes restaurants like Babe’s in Lakeville, where the manager, Bree Pashouwer, says she anticipates a challenge in getting people to comply.

“I’m feeling nervous about the feedback and the backlash we’ll be getting from the customers,” Pashouwer said. “It’s going to be just a lot of reminding people politely, respectfully.”

Down the road at B52 Burgers and Brew, it’s the same idea of polite enforcement.

“We’ve instructed the staff that if we get guests coming in that aren’t wearing masks or have an issue, just to get the manager involved and try to have that conversation,” said Bryce Wilson, the manager.

Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm says the mandate’s about establishing face coverings as an expectation.

“The intent is compliance. It’s not enforcement,” Malcolm said. “Anyone who’s in a position of law enforcement or public health, is not going around looking to hand out tickets.”

This week, Minneapolis made the White House Coronavirus Task Force list of cities needing to take aggressive action because of a surge in cases.

The state’s top health experts say increased social interaction is a major driver behind the surge.

“Consider the role you play [before going out to socialize],” said Kris Ehresmann, the director of MDH’s Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Prevent, and Control Division. “Not just the role of friend and someone with some free time who wants to have fun. Do you work in a child care setting? Are you a health care worker? Do you have elderly grandparents?”

Wilson says making sure customers comply is for the sake of the greater good.

“We as a restaurant industry really owe it to each other to make sure we’re following these guidelines,” Wilson said.

Health officials also say masks aren’t a magic answer.

Social distancing makes them much more effective.

READ MORE: Coronavirus (MN): Statewide Mask Mandate In Minnesota Will Begin Saturday

David Schuman

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