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St. Paul, MN (KROC-AM News) - Minnesota is the 29th state to adopt a statewide face mask mandate to combat the spread of COVID-19.

Governor Tim Walz made the announcement in an afternoon news briefing with state health officials and others a day after he indicated he was close to a decision on what has proven to be a divisive issue in Minnesota and other parts of the country. The governor's executive order is similar to the mandates enacted by many Minnesota cities, including Rochester, which require individuals to wear masks or other coverings over their mouths and noses while shopping or taking part in other activities at indoor public places. It takes effect on Saturday.

Governor Walz says wearing a mask, washing your hands, and maintaining safe social distancing are the quickest and least costly ways to end the pandemic. Violations of the order carry a fine of up to $100 dollars but Walz says the last thing law enforcement officers want to do is issue tickets for non-compliance. He says 4 million disposal masks are being distributed throughout Minnesota and will be made available to law officers so they can offer them to people who are not wearing them when required.

There are exceptions to the rule, including people with certain disabilities or medical conditions, along with children who are five years old and younger. The masks can also be removed while eating and drinking at an indoor business as long as 6-feet of space is maintained between individuals who are not members of the same party.

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