Face masks required across the state starting Saturday

During Monday’s Bemidji City Council meeting, Mayor Rita Albrecht made an amendment to the local emergency proclamation requiring face masks within indoor public spaces across Bemidji, with several exemptions included.

Since Gov. Tim Walz issued a statewide mask order, effective Saturday just after midnight, Bemidji’s mask requirement will then expire, as Mayor Albrecht explained.

The Governor’s face mask mandate includes many similar exemptions, such as children under the age of two cannot wear masks, and children under five are not required to wear them. Minnesotans with disabilities, medical or other health conditions are also exempt, and clear face shields are acceptable alternatives to the medical or cloth face mask.

According to a release from the Governor’s office, “While the goal of this Executive Order is voluntary compliance, not enforcement, any individual who willfully violates this Executive Order is guilty of a petty misdemeanor and upon conviction can be punished by a fine not to exceed $100. ​Businesses willfully violating this Executive Order are guilty of a misdemeanor and can be punished by a fine not to exceed $1,000 or up to 90 days in jail. The Attorney General, as well as city and county attorneys, may also seek civil penalties from businesses who are in violation of this Executive Order.”

During the press conference announcing this new executive order, Bemidji business owner Hannah Peura, of Compass Rose, spoke on how as she learned more about the novel coronavirus, she saw how masking was good for her business.

“Wearing a making is the quickest path to reopening our economy,” said Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) Commissioner Steve Grove. “By wearing a mask, Minnesotans are helping keep businesses and communities open. Masks are more than just a courtesy – they are essential to protecting employees and customers.”

Masks, according to the Minnesota Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control, prevent the spread of droplets. The novel coronavirus appears to attach itself to the droplets emitted through speech, laughter, coughing and sneezing. Effective mask use includes ensuring a snug fit across the mouth and nose. Cloth masks should be washed after use, and disposable masks should be disposed after use.

Hannah Peura’s full speech:

More resources on the Minnesota COVID situation can be found here.

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