MN mask mandate: How strict will local law enforcement be?

Published: Jul. 23, 2020 at 5:02 PM CDT
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FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) - In just two more days Minnesota’s mask mandate begins which has many in the Valley wondering just how strict the new order will be.

Governor Tim Walz says masks must be worn inside businesses and indoor public spaces with exceptions for medical conditions, as well as eating and drinking.

With only seven officers on staff, Dilworth Police Chief Ty Sharpe says their amount of calls for service already keep his officers swamped, which is something many other local police departments agree with. Most departments also urge the public not to call 911 if you see someone out and about without a mask on.

“We don’t’ have the time and the manpower to actually go out looking for people or responding to calls and to cite people for not wearing a mask,” Chief Sharpe said.

Along with Dilworth, police departments in East Grand Forks, Fergus Falls and Moorhead say while they aren’t hunting mask violaters down, they will assist businesses if requested.

“For example, if Walmart wants to tell a person that they can’t come in because they’re not wearing a mask and that person wants to argue with them and refuse to leave, then we will go and assist Walmart in having those persons leave,” Sharpe explained.

Most departments tell Valley News Live they won’t have extra masks to hand out to the public unless the state of Minnesota provides them.

Chief Sharpe also says while first time offenders will get off with just a warning, a third or fourth run-in with officers could be different.

“We possibly would be giving a citation for not wearing a mask if they’ve been educated, they’ve been asked to leave, and now they’re pushing the situation,” he said.

If you are cited, you could face up to a $100 fine, meanwhile businesses found in violation can face up to a $1,000 fine and up to 90 days in jail.

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