Statewide Mask Mandate Lifted, Most Local Cities to Follow Suit
Statewide Mask Mandate Lifted
Governor Tim Walz on Friday lifted the state’s mask mandate following new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, allowing people who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to stop wearing face coverings.
Despite the mandate being lifted, the state is still encouraging people who are not fully vaccinated to keep wearing masks. People are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine or the second shot of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.
According to the latest Minnesota Department of Health data, 61% of Minnesotans age 16 and up have received at least one dose of COVID-19. In Hennepin County, 71 percent have received at least shot.
Cities Have Discretion, But Most to Follow Statewide Mask Policy
The end of the statewide mask mandate does not preclude local governments from setting and enforcing their mask policy. However, most cities in the northwest metro told CCX News that they will follow state guidelines. Golden Valley and Robbinsdale say they will follow state rules. Unless the Plymouth City Council enacts a citywide mask mandate, Plymouth will also follow suit.
Osseo will consider changes at its upcoming May 24 council meeting. Until then, it will keep its mask policy in place.
In Brooklyn Park, the city starting posting signs Friday encouraging mask usage for the health and benefit of city staff and visitors.
“We encourage people to wear masks while inside city facilities,” read a city statement to CCX News.
Maple Grove is following the governor’s lifting on the mask requirement as well and will not require face coverings within city facilities.
Businesses will be free to make their own decisions about whether to ask customers or employees to mask up. Everyone will still have to wear face coverings at schools, medical facilities and on public transportation.
State Health Officials React to Mask Mandate Lifted: ‘I Have Really Mixed Feelings About This’
On Friday, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) held a briefing on the latest COVID-19 information and the lifting of the mask mandate. State health officials said they were caught a off guard by the CDC’s announcement on Thursday.
“I have really mixed feelings about this,” said MDH Commissioner Jan Malcolm, who pointed to the state’s case growth, which is the fourth highest in the country.
“Yesterday’s announcement from CDC was a significant development that was news to all of us,” added Kris Ehresmann, MDH’s infectious disease director, at Friday’s briefing.
The state had planned to lift its mask mandate by July 1 or once 70% of people age 16 and over received at least one dose of vaccine, whichever came sooner.
On Friday, MDH announced 1,306 new cases and 9 deaths attributed to COVID-19. That brings the state’s total since the pandemic started to 592,750 cases and 7,283 deaths. On Thursday, the state reported 19 deaths.
The state’s 7-day rolling average case rate is at 5.8%, which is above the state’s “caution” threshold.
“There still are a lot of people at risk, there’s a lot of virus out there. We still are in a race against time against the variants,” said Malcolm.
CCX News Executive Producer Corey Bork contributed to this report.