Mayor Jacob Frey has announced that Minneapolis' face mask mandate has ended.
The mayor announced the immediate cessation of the mask requirement Tuesday afternoon, a little over a year after it first went into effect.
Gov. Tim Walz ended the statewide mask mandate on May 14 following updated CDC guidance that stated vaccinated people don't need to wear masks indoors unless in a few specific settings (such as healthcare), but Minneapolis and St. Paul kept their local rules in place until it had time to review the guidance.
The move Tuesday to lift the mandate, Frey says, comes as 78.6% of Minneapolis residents aged 15 and over have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose.
Meanwhile, the current level of COVID-19 cases is at a 7-day rolling average of below 10 cases per 100,000 residents.
"Throughout the pandemic we’ve taken a data-driven approach to making public health decisions, and now in the final stretch we will continue following the science,” said Frey
"After a thorough review of public health data, Minneapolis is reaching vaccination rates above the recommended threshold for safely lifting this policy - but it doesn’t mean the pandemic is over. Our team at the local level will continue working with trusted community partners and neighboring jurisdictions to expand our outreach efforts in BIPOC and immigrant neighborhoods."
Communities of color have been found to have lower vaccination rates than white residents, something the city is seeking to address with an "increased focus" on providing access, including free vaccination sites at public housing, door-to-door outreach, regular communication in several languages, and "vaccination education content" on local cultural radio programs.
Masks will still be required inside schools, as is the case statewide under Minnesota's "Safe Learning Plan" until the end of the academic year. After that, school districts will have the ability to set their own rules regarding masking policies for the 2021/22 school year.
Minnesotans who have not been vaccinated are still technically required to wear masks indoors, but this is not being enforced. Instead, unvaccinated people are being strongly encouraged to keep wearing masks for now.
There is no word as of yet as to whether St. Paul will lift its mandate.