St. Paul will require people to wear face masks inside businesses and city buildings beginning June 1, and may penalize those who don't comply.
Mayor Melvin Carter signed an executive order Wednesday requiring face masks to be worn indoors at licensed businesses and city-controlled facilities. The order, which Carter signed alongside another that will make it easier for restaurants to provide outdoor dining, is a step toward reopening the city in tandem with the rest of the state, the mayor said in an interview Wednesday.
"Within the recommendations that we're getting from our public health professionals, our goal is to be as forward-thinking as possible with regard to helping people resume some sense of normalcy, helping people be able to operate those businesses and get back to work," Carter said.
As in Minneapolis, St. Paul will require that people wear manufactured or homemade cloth masks that fully cover their nose and mouth. Young children at risk of suffocation and people who cannot wear a face covering for health reasons are exempt.
According to Carter's order, individuals who do not wear a mask inside a city-controlled property will be asked to leave. If they don't, they may face criminal penalties for trespassing. Businesses found to be in violation may face licensing penalties.
"The primary enforcement is community members, it's word of mouth, it's the goodwill that has kept people social distancing in the way that we have and staying at home in the way that we have over the past couple of weeks," Carter said.
The mayor's second executive order suspends some off-street parking requirements for licensed restaurants and bars and expedites application and approval processes for the use of sidewalks, roadways, parks and parking areas as patios or sale spaces.
Gov. Tim Walz ordered the temporary closure of Minnesota bars and restaurants in March. The state is allowing those that meet certain safety rules to provide outdoor dining for up to 50 people starting Monday.
Frey signed an order Tuesday allowing the city to temporarily suspend some of its zoning rules to allow for more outdoor dining. Bloomington and St. Louis Park are taking similar measures.
"We know that we as a community have asked a big thing of our businesses in being shut down for this time," Carter said. "I think we owe a big thing back to them in saying we're going to work with you to help facilitate people being well in all the ways that they can in alignment with our public health guidance."