Minneapolis and St. Paul Reinstate Mask Mandates on Businesses

Date: January 11, 2022

However, Gov. Walz says there's no plans for statewide mandate

On January 5, the mayors of Minneapolis and St. Paul simultaneously announced the reinstitution of face covering requirements for employees and patrons at most businesses in each city.


In St. Paul, the mandate applies to all city-controlled property and businesses licensed by the city. All other businesses are “strongly encouraged” to comply. The mandate remains in effect for up to 40 days, unless the emergency declaration is rescinded, or the city council extends the enforcement period (as they have for most emergency orders during the pandemic). See the full St. Paul Executive Order here: Emergency Executive Orders | Saint Paul Minnesota (stpaul.gov).


In Minneapolis, the mandate applies to all businesses of public accommodation. This includes “retail stores, rental establishments, government buildings, stadiums, arenas, convention centers, and service establishments as well as educational institutions, recreational facilities, and service centers.” The Minneapolis order remains in place for an initial period of three days but is likely to extended by the city council. See the full Minneapolis Executive Order here: Emergency Regulation No. 2022-1 – City of Minneapolis (minneapolismn.gov).


As with previous mandates, failure to comply with the city mandates could result in warning letters, administrative action against a licensed business, or misdemeanor citation. It is unclear the extent to which businesses are asked to monitor and enforce the mandate on their customers.


There is further speculation Minneapolis and St. Paul may implement a vaccine requirement to enter most businesses, as has been done in places like New York, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and other large urban centers. Both cities currently require city employees to be vaccinated (Minneapolis allows employees to present a negative test in lieu of proof of vaccination).


Restaurant and retail businesses in Minneapolis and St. Paul report having to periodically close due to infection-driven staff shortages. Others have shut down for a week or more at a time due to COVID-19 infection or as a general preventative measure.


On January 10, the Duluth City Council voted against implementing a city mask mandate. The proposed Duluth mask mandate required unanimous approval from the nine council members, but two voted opposed the measure. A separate proposal purporting to give the mayor power to implement a mask mandate on her own also failed, with four voting against it.


While Governor Walz supports the Minneapolis and St. Paul mandates, he said there are no plans to require masks statewide as of January 6. Walz previously said reinstituting a statewide mask mandate “would be counterproductive” due to partisanship surrounding his use of emergency powers.


The Governor would likely need to declare another peacetime emergency before issuing a statewide mask mandate. The peacetime emergency powers used to issue executive orders during the first 15 months of the pandemic was ended by the Legislature in July 2021.

Related Content: Small Business News | Minnesota

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