Minneapolis, St. Paul reinstate mask mandate for businesses, government buildings

(KSTP) – Minneapolis and St. Paul mayors have reinstated mask mandates at all licensed businesses and city-controlled facilities as COVID-19 cases continue to surge in the Twin Cities metro with the onslaught of the new omicron variant.

The mandates signed by Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter both take effect 5 p.m. Thursday.

"Reinstating the masking requirement is an important step in keeping our communities safe amid the surge of COVID-19 cases in Saint Paul," Carter said in a statement. "This, alongside our work to ensure Saint Paul residents have the tools and access they need to get vaccinated are paramount to recovering from this pandemic and building toward our future."

St. Paul businesses that are not public accommodations are "strongly encouraged" to require masks indoors.

Meanwhile, Minneapolis city officials state "areas of public accommodation" include "any indoor locations where members of the public may gather, visit, or patronize and can include, but are not limited to, bars, restaurants, museums, theaters, schools, recreational facilities, retail locations, and service offices."

"We have to keep our city healthy and moving. Wearing a mask is an obvious next step to do both," Frey said in a statement. "The data is clear. The surging numbers of cases and hospitalizations from the Omicron variant demand immediate action to keep our residents healthy while making every effort to allow schools and businesses to remain safe and open across our Twin Cities."

The reinstated mask mandates echo previous precautions the city had put in place prior to the widespread availability of the COVID-19 vaccine and apply to all individuals, regardless of vaccination status.