Democrats introduce bill to make mask mandate Minnesota law

Fourteen Democrats have signed on as co-sponsors of the bill. 

Gov. Tim Walz and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan. (Lt. Gov. Flanagan/Twitter)

House Democrats introduced a bill Monday to enact Gov. Tim Walz’s mask mandate into state law.

Under sustained pressure from Republicans, Walz released a list of conditions last month for relinquishing his emergency powers, which have been in effect since March 13 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I encourage you to begin the work of enacting into law the core provisions of the emergency response that have been keeping Minnesotans safe,” Walz said in a Jan. 6 letter to state lawmakers.

Among other things, Walz called on legislators to codify “requirements to wear face coverings in public indoor spaces and indoor businesses.”

State Rep. Sydney Jordan’s bill would do just that. House File 604 would require Minnesotans above the age of five to wear face coverings while “indoors at a business or public setting” and when “waiting outdoors to enter an indoor business or indoor public setting.”

The masking law would also apply to public transportation, school transportation, ride-sharing vehicles, common areas of multi-unit dwellings, and outdoor areas where social distancing isn’t possible.

The bill includes exemptions for people with medical conditions and workers who can’t safely wear masks on the job.

The law would expire when the CDC determines that masks are no longer necessary to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Fourteen Democrats have signed on as co-sponsors of the bill.