Jan 5, 2022 - COVID

Minneapolis and St. Paul issue indoor mask mandates amid COVID spike

Illustration of a pattern of masks
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Minneapolis and St. Paul are reinstituting indoor mask mandates as the spread of Omicron fuels a recent surge in COVID-19 cases across the metro.

Driving the news: Mayors Jacob Frey and Melvin Carter announced the revived rules on Wednesday.

  • Both citywide mandates will go into effect Thursday, starting at 5pm.

State of play: The Twin Cities metro has seen a big increase in positive tests this week, as the fast-spreading variant drives up cases across the state and country.

Details: Minneapolis' policy requires that individuals wear masks indoors at all businesses and places of accommodation, which includes schools, restaurants, bars, theaters, stores and museums, to name a few.

  • St. Paul's calls for mask-wearing inside all city-controlled facilities and businesses licensed by the city. The regulation says masks must be worn "at all times when social distancing of at least 6 feet is not maintained," unless the person is eating or drinking.

Flashback: Frey and Carter both lifted their previous mask mandates last June, citing high vaccination rates and dropping case counts.

What they're saying: "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," Frey said in a statement Wednesday.

  • Carter called the decision to reinstate the mask mandate "an important step in keeping our communities safe amid the surge of COVID-19 cases in Saint Paul."

Editor's note: This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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