Minneapolis will require people to wear masks in indoor public spaces starting 5 p.m. on Tuesday, May 26.
Per the emergency regulation enacted by Mayor Jacob Frey, anyone over the age of 2 who can "medically tolerate" a face mask will be required to wear a mask in stores, hotels, government buildings, schools, recreational facilities, day care facilities, and service centers.
During a press conference Thursday afternoon, Mayor Jacob Frey emphasized the policy is backed by research showing cloth masks can slow the spread of the coronavirus. While the city will prioritize outreach and education, he said, refusal to wear a mask can result in a citation and up to $1,000 in fines.
“With the state’s recent decision to begin relaxing some regulations, we’ve realized it’s important that we right-size our approach for our outsized footprint in the state,” Frey said. “We’re the largest and densest city … We have a responsibility to the entire state to step up our efforts to prevent community spread.”
Employers will be required to enforce the policy, which will apply to bars and restaurants when they re-open, he said. To report refusal to wear a mask, or ask questions about the policy, residents can call 311.
The city said it has distributed masks to many organizations affected by the policy, including day care centers. During a city-wide mask drive Monday, people can drop off masks from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at fire stations.
“We are not criminalizing forgetfulness; we are not penalizing people for a lack of awareness,” Frey said. “We will not be entertaining extreme selfishness and flagrant disregard to the health and safety of our fellow Minneapolis residents.”
As of Wednesday, Minneapolis had 2,098 confirmed cases of COVID-19. More than half of these cases have been traced to community spread, in other words the source is unknown.
Black residents, which comprise 19 percent of the city’s population, make up 35 percent of these cases, Frey said, adding that a disproportionate amount of frontline workers are low-income people of color.
“The public health needs of our city are undeniably linked to what each and every one of us does individually,” Frey said. “Simply put, wearing a cloth mask will help keep our neighbors safe.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began encouraging people to wear cloth coverings or masks in addition to social distancing in public spaces on April 3. Since then, major cities nationwide have adopted similar policies, including Denver, Los Angeles, San Jose, New York City and Birmingham. Several states have also made masks mandatory in public spaces.
Metro Transit began requiring riders to wear masks this week.