A group of 16 individuals, churches and businesses are suing Gov. Tim Walz over his statewide mask mandate for indoor spaces.
Their suit, filed Thursday in Ramsey County District Court, argues that the requirement is unconstitutional, conflicts with state laws, and imposes an undue burden on business owners. It also demands that Walz, state Attorney General Keith Ellison and Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom either show it is consistent with state law or end enforcement of the mandate.
Walz faces several lawsuits related to the mask requirement, which he imposed in July to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Other lawsuits seek to strike down the requirement in churches and at polling places.
The latest legal challenge was filed by the Upper Midwest Law Center, an organization that describes its goal as limiting “governmental special interest and public union overreach.”
The group argues the mandate violates residents’ personal liberties while the science around mask effectiveness is unsettled “at best.” They say the mandate subjects people to risk of prosecution from Ellison’s office and city or county attorneys.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has asked people to wear masks, saying that face coverings help protect against the spread of the coronavirus. Meanwhile, state health officials said this week that Minnesota’s declining COVID-19 case growth coincides with the mask mandate.
Elizabeth Berg, one of the petitioners, said the rule creates an “impossible task for business owners” who must comply with the mask mandate while ensuring that people who have medical exemptions can visit their business.
Ellison has said in response to past suits that he stands behind Walz’s executive orders, which he said are constitutional and protect the health of Minnesotans during the worst global pandemic in a century.