MINNEAPOLIS — Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey signed an emergency order Thursday that makes wearing a mask or face covering mandatory inside indoor public spaces.
Frey announced during a press conference that face coverings will be required for anyone over the age of two inside retail stores, hotels, government buildings, schools and universities, recreational facilities, and service centers, and once they're back open, bars and restaurants. The order will go into effect at 5 p.m. Tuesday, May 26 and will continue until further notice.
"I promised the people of Minneapolis that I would follow the data and take my cues from public health experts,” said Frey.
The new order doesn't require masks, but people will be required to cover their nose and mouth, which could be done with a bandanna or cloth scarf.
Frey said owners and managers have every right to refuse entry to anyone who does not comply with this new order.
In an effort to ensure residents are equipped for this new order, Frey said city staff members are currently working on a Memorial Day public cloth mask drive where residents can donate masks at any local fire station.
People can also contact the city about obtaining a mask if they don't have access to cloth masks.
Frey reiterated that this is not a substitute for social distancing. Residents are asked to continue to keep six feet of distance between others when possible, and continue to wash their hands frequently.
As for enforcement, there will be some government agencies that will monitor the public's response to the order, but Frey is asking residents to call 311 to report any violations. The penalty would be misdemeanor, which carries penalties up to a $1,000 fine, and the city could take action against licenses for businesses who don't comply.
"You're going to have to earn a citation," Frey said. "We're not going to penalize forgetfulness."
A news release from the city asserts that medical research indicates COVID-19 may have a high rate of transmission through respiratory droplets, particularly while indoors, and that wearing a mask can help reduce the risk of community spread. City leaders say research also shows people who are asymptomatic (or have yet to show signs of the virus) can still transmit the virus without knowing they have contracted it.