Gov. Tim Walz said Thursday that Minnesota will allow people to ditch their masks meant to slow the spread of the coronavirus, an announcement that followed new federal recommendations on face coverings.
Walz said he would sign executive orders Friday ending the mask mandate he enacted by emergency authority in July, although state health officials recommend that people who are not fully vaccinated or may be asymptomatic either get their shots or keep wearing masks.
The governor’s office said businesses and municipalities may maintain mask requirements. Both Minneapolis and St. Paul are keeping their mandates in place for now.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention earlier Thursday eased mask-wearing guidance for fully vaccinated people, allowing them to stop wearing masks outdoors in crowds and in most indoor settings.
State Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said she had mixed feelings about the move, noting that the state is fourth highest in the country in COVID-19 growth and having 61% of the population vaccinated “is not nearly enough” to hold back the virus.
The CDC guidance still calls for wearing masks in crowded indoor settings like buses, planes, hospitals, prisons and homeless shelters, but it will help clear the way for reopening workplaces, schools and other venues. It also removes the need for social distancing for those who are fully vaccinated.
Minnesota Lawyer staff contributed to this report.
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