Frequently Asked Questions About the Requirement to Wear Face Coverings - Minnesota Dept. of Health

Frequently Asked Questions About the Requirement to Wear Face Coverings

As of July 25, 2020, per the Governor's Executive Order 20-81, people in Minnesota are required to wear a face covering in all indoor businesses and public indoor spaces, unless you are alone. Additionally, workers are required to wear a face covering when working outdoors in situations where social distancing cannot be maintained. Research has shown that use of face coverings can greatly reduce the risk of infection when combined with other prevention efforts such as social distancing and hand hygiene.

Expand All    Contract All

About face coverings

The virus which causes COVID-19 is thought to be mostly spread by respiratory droplets released when people talk, cough or sneeze. Many people with COVID-19 do not show any symptoms but can still spread the virus to others, especially those who have had prolonged close contact with another person. Additionally, people can be contagious before they show symptoms of COVID-19. Wearing a face covering will help to protect the people around you if you are infected and do not know it. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) recommend that people should wear a face covering in public to limit the spread of respiratory droplets, especially in situations where social distancing is hard to maintain. Face coverings along with other measures like good hand hygiene and social distancing work together to slow the spread.

How to wear a face covering (updated 9/22/20)
  • Types of face coverings can include a cloth mask, a neck gaiter, a scarf, a bandanna, or a religious face covering.
  • CDC recommends using two layers of fabric when making a cloth face covering. Face coverings that are made of thinner single-layer fabric such as certain types of masks, scarves, neck gaiters, or bandannas may not be as effective for blocking droplets that come out when speaking, coughing, or sneezing and should not be used unless there are no alternatives.
  • A paper or disposable mask may be used temporarily, for example if offered as a condition of entry into a business, but more substantial face coverings are preferred, especially if maintaining social distancing is difficult or impossible.
  • A face covering must cover the nose and mouth completely. The covering should not be overly tight or restrictive and should feel comfortable to wear.
  • Any masks that incorporate a valve that is designed to facilitate easy exhaling, mesh masks, or masks with openings, holes, visible gaps in the design or material, or vents are not sufficient face coverings because they allow droplets to be released from the mask.

Refer to the following resources for additional guidance and tips on how to wear a face covering:

Wearing face coverings in the context of other respiratory diseases such as tuberculosis and influenza has been shown to reduce transmission.(1, 2) Model simulations using data from New York and Washington suggest that broad use of face coverings can significantly reduce community transmission of COVID-19 and decrease the number of hospitalizations and deaths.(3) States that have mandated use of face coverings in public have seen a decline in their daily growth rate of COVID-19 cases, and these measures are estimated to have prevented between 230,000 and 450,000 cases.(4) Case studies have shown that universal masking for source control has helped to prevent transmission, including in a hair salon where stylists positive for SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) did not transmit to their clients while wearing face coverings.(5) The greatest community benefits are likely to be seen when as many people as possible wear face coverings in combination with other prevention measures such as social distancing and hand hygiene.

Masks or cloth coverings can be purchased or handmade. There is not a list of approved vendors. When buying or making a face covering, remember to check that it meets the following requirements:

  • Completely covers the mouth and nose.
  • Is not overly tight or restrictive.
  • The face covering must not be made of mesh or other fabric with holes and must not have a valve designed to facilitate easy exhaling or other openings, holes, visible gaps in the design or material, or vents.

If making a mask, there are many resources available to assist, including:

About the face covering requirement

Minnesota has strongly recommended widespread use of face coverings since April. As shown in other states, COVID-19 surges can happen quickly—even in areas with previously low or decreasing case numbers—and with disastrous consequences. Because Minnesota has begun the process of reopening its economy and people are now leaving the home more frequently, smart, simple infection-control measures, like wearing a face covering, are particularly important to prevent further COVID-19 spread. Previously, Minnesota and other states encouraged voluntary compliance with face covering recommendations, but compliance with such recommendations has been inconsistent and face covering requirements have been shown to increase consistent face covering use.(6) Other states are having success controlling the spread of COVID-19 by mandating face coverings in certain settings in accordance with CDC and WHO recommendations.

This Executive Order is effective immediately upon approval by the Executive Council, with the requirement to wear face coverings starting July 25. It remains in effect until the peacetime emergency declared in Executive Order 20-01 ends or until cancelled by a proper authority (Minnesota Statutes 2019, section 4.035, subdivision 2, and section 12.32).

The Executive Order establishes the minimum face covering requirements for all Minnesotans. If a local government authority (such as a city or county) establishes requirements that are more protective (in that they require face coverings in more situations), those requirements must be followed.

The goal of the Executive Order is to advise Minnesotans that wearing a face covering will protect them, their families, their friends, and others, and the expectation is that Minnesotans will voluntarily comply with the Order's requirements. Enforcement is not the goal of this Executive Order, but because these requirements are so important for the safety of our communities, Minnesotans who fail to comply with the Executive Order may receive a petty misdemeanor citation and a fine of up to $100.

Businesses have heightened responsibility for public safety, given the volume of people that pass through Minnesota businesses on any given day. As such, businesses (and their owners and management) may be subject to criminal charges (up to a misdemeanor, $1,000 fine, and not more than 90 days in jail), civil enforcement and fines (of up to $25,000), and regulatory enforcement (e.g., actions by government authorities that license or regulate the business).

There are people who may not be able to wear face coverings for a variety of reasons and you may not be able to tell why just by looking at a person. Unless you are a business responsible for ensuring worker and customer compliance with the Executive Order, do not confront a person about why they are not wearing a face covering an do not report the person to state or local authorities, including law enforcement. Instead, ask the person to maintain social distance, if possible. Face coverings protect others from you so the best option is for you to continue to wear your face covering and, where possible, physically distance yourself at least six feet from people not wearing face coverings. Remember, we're all in this together and not everyone is able to wear a face covering.

When to wear a face covering and when you can remove it

There is no defined list of recognized medical, mental health conditions or disabilities that would prevent someone from wearing a face covering. Even if there was, there can be individual variation in tolerance for wearing a face covering among people with the same condition–one person might tolerate a face covering and another might not.

Face coverings can also pose special challenges for people who are deaf or hard of hearing or have other communication needs or disabilities. The Executive Order not only provides exemptions for people who are unable to wear a face covering due to a medical or mental health condition or disability, but also allows people without such conditions to temporarily remove their face covering while communicating with someone who is deaf or hard of hearing or who has a condition or disability that makes communication with that individual while wearing a face covering difficult. See Best Practices for Masks: Considerations for People with Disabilities and Special Health Needs (PDF).

Yes. The case count reported by MDH does not account for all cases because a person with COVID-19 may not feel sick or get tested. It is important that all Minnesotans take precautions. Face coverings will help to slow the spread of COVID-19 everywhere in Minnesota, and help keep our economy open.

The Executive Order allows a person to temporarily remove their face covering when asked to do so to verify their identity—for example, when applying for or renewing a driver's license or identification card. However, businesses and other people or entities that are required or authorized to verify a person's identity are encouraged to use other means of identification that do not require a person to remove their face covering (for example, checking a person's height or eye color against the information on their driver's license or identification card) to the extent possible.

No. People wearing a face covering may possess a handgun under a legal permit to carry in the same manner as a person who is not wearing a face covering.

Yes. The Executive Order requires face coverings in all indoor businesses and public indoor spaces. While people are not required to wear a face covering in their private living unit, face coverings are required in all common areas of a multi-unit residential building. For people who are unable to wear a face covering due to a medical or mental health condition or disability, landlords, property managers, and homeowners associations must provide a clear means to request a reasonable accommodation to face covering requirements in common areas.

Yes. The Executive Order requires that face coverings be worn in any indoor public space or indoor business—including polling places. Voters who refuse to wear a face covering within the polling place will be provided with the opportunity to vote using curbside voting procedures which will allow the voter to vote outside and without violating the Executive Order.

A voter who refuses to wear a face covering and refuses the curbside option will not be prevented from voting. However, any individual who fails to comply with the Executive Order—whether in a polling place or other indoor public space or business—may be subject to a petty misdemeanor citation and a fine of up to $100.

For more information about Election Day voting and other ways to vote, visit Office of Minnesota Secretary of State: Elections & Voting or call 1-877-600-VOTE (8683).

Yes, places of worship need to follow the provisions laid out in Executive Order 20-81. Places of worship must also prepare and implement COVID-19 Preparedness Plans and follow the guidance found at Stay Safe Guidance for Places of Worship.

A wet face covering may interfere with breathing, so the Executive Order allows people to remove their face coverings when participating in activities (e.g., swimming) that will get a face covering wet. Although businesses are allowed to implement stricter face covering requirements than those in the Executive Order, businesses are strongly discouraged from requiring face coverings during activities that will get a face covering wet.

Each person’s fitness level and ability to tolerate a face covering while exercising is different. The Executive Order allows for temporary removal of a face covering when exercising or participating in organized sports when the level of exertion makes wearing a face covering difficult. Face coverings during high intensity exercise may pose a risk by saturating the covering, interfering with breathing, or increasing the risk of overheating. While the risk of viral transmission is increased with activities that result in heavier and faster breathing, especially in indoor settings, this risk must be balanced with individual safety. MDH recommends wearing a face covering while exercising if tolerated, but this may not be possible for all people. Anyone experiencing concerning symptoms such as dizziness, lightheadedness, or shortness of breath while exercising wearing a face covering should stop exercising immediately and remove their face covering, particularly those with any underlying health conditions such as cardiac or respiratory disease.

Rather than requiring all people wear face coverings during exercise, businesses such as gyms, fitness centers, or exercise studios should instead emphasize measures (e.g., occupancy controls, equipment placement, etc.) that ensure strict social distancing of at least 6 feet (greater than 6 feet is preferred). Additionally businesses should maximize other infection control practices (e.g., greater ventilation and air exchanges, frequent disinfection) outlined in applicable industry guidance. Please note that patrons of gyms, fitness centers, or exercise studios must wear face coverings when not exercising—for example, when moving around the building, when in the lobby, when waiting for a fitness class to start, etc.

Businesses and workers

Generally, workers are required to wear a face covering at all times when indoors, when outdoors in situations where social distancing cannot be maintained, or when specific industry guidance has stricter requirements. Please see the Stay Safe Guidance for Businesses and Organizations to find information about specific work industries. Industry-specific requirements that differ from or impose greater requirements than the Executive Order are also summarized at Face Covering Requirements and Recommendations under Executive Order 20-81. Businesses are responsible for clearly communicating the applicable requirements to their workers.

The Executive Order also identifies a number of situations where a face covering may be temporarily removed, such as when a worker is working alone (for example, in an office, a cubicle with walls above face height when social distancing is maintained, or other enclosed space with no other individuals present). In addition, if a worker cannot wear a face covering due to a medical condition, mental health condition, or disability, a business must provide an accommodation to the worker if possible.

Yes, it is the responsibility of the business to require that its workers, customers, and visitors are wearing face coverings consistent with the provisions of Executive Order 20-81.

Businesses must update their COVID-19 Preparedness Plan to align with the requirements of Executive Order 20-81. Businesses must also communicate to workers and customers that face coverings must be worn when required by the Executive Order—meaning, when indoors, for both customers and workers, and also when outdoors for workers, when social distancing cannot be maintained--unless circumstances allow for the temporarily removal of the face covering. At a minimum, businesses must communicate face covering requirements by clearly posting signage in places that are visible to all workers, customers, and visitors.  A best practice would be for businesses to notify customers about face covering requirements through communication while they are making reservations, appointments, or placing orders for pickup.

Digital and print materials related to the #MaskUpMN campaign are available for download on Minnesota COVID-19 Response: Share Our Message For Businesses.

The Executive Order includes exemptions to the face covering mandate for people with certain medical conditions, mental health conditions, or disabilities. When a customer or visitor claims to be exempt due to a medical or mental health condition or disability, businesses may not require proof of the condition or disability, or require customers or visitors to explain the nature of their condition or disability. When possible, and as long as it does not pose a health or safety to risk to workers or other customers or visitors, businesses must provide accommodations to customers and visitors who are unable to wear a face covering. In all situations, a business must work to reduce worker and customer exposure to people who are unable to wear a face covering. Potential accommodations and steps to reduce exposure to COVID-19 must be based on the most up-to-date public health recommendations and may include one or more of the following:

  • Offering curbside or other contactless pick up options;
  • Permitting the customer to wear an alternative face covering (e.g., a face shield); and/or
  • Implementing a protocol that ensures strict social distancing is maintained between customers and workers at all times while the customer is indoors (which may be supplemented by additional protective measures, such as installing plexiglass barriers in areas where customers or workers regularly interact, or limiting customer capacity).

If the business cannot reasonably accommodate a customer who is unable to wear a face covering or an alternative in a way that minimizes or eliminates potential exposure to others, (for example, if the nature of the business does not allow curbside pick-up and makes strict social distancing impossible or unlikely), or if the customer refuses the accommodations, the best practice to keep workers and customers safe is to decline services to the customer or request that the customer leave the premises.

A customer or visitor who cannot wear a face covering due to a medical or mental health condition or disability is exempt from the face covering requirements of the Executive Order. A business is not required to allow entry to a customer or visitor not wearing a face covering. However, the business may allow the customer or visitor into their store or workplace, as long as it takes the following into account:

  • A business has to protect their workers from hazards—including COVID-19 infection. If visitors or customers who are not wearing a face covering for medical or mental health reasons are allowed in a store or workplace, the business must take steps to prevent such visitors or customers from posing a hazard to the business’ workers (refer to the question above for additional information about this topic).
  • Under the Executive Order a business must, when possible, offer a reasonable accommodation, such as permitting use of an alternate form of face covering (e.g., face shield) or providing service options that do not require a customer to enter the business.
  • Federal law, including the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), may also create obligations for businesses or employers. You can get more information about the ADA and COVID-19 from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and businesses should talk to their legal representatives for specific advice. In general, a person with a disability should be offered a reasonable accommodation, but it does not have to be their preferred accommodation, as long as what is offered would be effective. If a business has offered several reasonable options and the customer or visitor has refused them all and offered no additional options, the business is justified in declining service to the customer, or requesting that the customer leave the premises or not enter the premises, and should do so. Also, the ADA does not require a business to admit a person or provide a service when doing so would present a direct threat to the health or safety of others—including workers and other customers or visitors.

If a worker claims to be exempt from face covering requirements, businesses must follow the requirements of applicable laws (including civil rights laws like the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Minnesota Human Rights Act) that relate to verification of a worker's condition or disability. Because businesses have to maintain a safe workplace and ensure compliance with the Executive Order, a business should not allow a worker to work without a face covering without verifying that they need an exemption. Once the exemption is verified, the business should provide any exempt worker an accommodation, as long as it can keep the worker, other workers, and customers and visitors healthy and safe.

A business’ COVID-19 Preparedness Plan must document the actions it puts in place to lessen or eliminate the risks of COVID-19 exposure posed by exempt workers and must put these measures into practice. Actions should be based on up-to-date public health recommendations. If the worker will interact with customers, visitors, or other workers (particularly when social distancing is not always possible), the employer could offer the worker the option of wearing a face shield as an alternative, if appropriate. If a worker also cannot medically tolerate a face shield, or if a face shield would not be appropriate under the circumstances (for example, in situations where wearing a face shield may be unsafe), the business must lessen or eliminate potential transmission risk in other ways. For example, the business could develop and implement a protocol to ensure that strict social distancing is maintained between customers and other workers for the worker’s entire shift. This may require changing the worker’s role (e.g., a worker who regularly interacts with customers and/or moves around in close proximity to others could be moved to a role that allows them to work alone in an office, or to a cashier role that allows social distancing to be maintained to the extent possible and the worker is behind a plexiglass or similar barrier whenever social distancing cannot be maintained). Overall, if the business cannot lessen the risks posed by an exempt worker through actions that follow public health recommendations, or if the exempt worker refuses offered accommodations, the business must send the worker home.

When an employee does not claim a legitimate exemption from face covering requirements (for example, due to a disability) but still refuses to wear a face covering, businesses should take appropriate disciplinary action.

If a customer who does not claim a legitimate exemption refuses to comply with face covering requirements, businesses should assess the situation and determine how best to proceed, using normal procedures for dealing with a difficult customer. Because businesses have an obligation to protect their workers from hazards—including COVID-19 infection—businesses must take steps to mitigate or eliminate the risks posed by a person who refuses to wear a face covering.

Here are some best practices to consider:

  • If a customer (or visitor) enters or attempts to enter without a face covering, communicate face covering requirements to the customer, offer the customer a face covering, and request that they put it on.
  • If a customer continues to refuse to wear a face covering, decline services to the customer, or request that the customer not enter the premises or leave the premises.
  • The business may also offer the customer service alternatives, if available, including curbside pick-up, home delivery, or retrieving merchandise for the customer.
  • Based on its assessment of the situation, the business may also determine that there is a need to engage law enforcement to assist.

Nothing in the Executive Order provides businesses with the right to physically restrain or remove a noncompliant person when it would not otherwise be legal to do so. Employees and management should avoid direct enforcement in situations that would put themselves or others at risk of harm and instead consider engaging law enforcement.

If workers, acting in good faith, have a reasonable belief that they have been assigned to work in an unsafe and unhealthy manner, they may refuse to perform the job duties assigned if they have requested that the business correct the hazardous conditions.

It is the responsibility of businesses to provide their workers with a safe and healthy workplace. If a customer refuses to wear a face covering, a business needs to take action to mitigate workers’ exposure to the customer, while making reasonable efforts to obtain the customer's compliance.

Businesses are encouraged to provide face coverings for all workers to ensure compliance with the Executive Order. If an employer requires that all workers wear the same uniform face covering, such as one with their business logo on it, they will likely purchase the face covering and provide it to workers. However, the law provides that an employer can deduct from a worker’s wages the cost of a uniform so long as it does not reduce the worker’s pay below the minimum wage for hours worked. The amount of the deduction for a face covering may not exceed the cost of the face covering to the employer. The maximum deduction for all items that are part of a uniform allowed by law is $50. If the employer provides the face covering and deducts the cost of the face covering from the worker’s wages, the employer must reimburse the worker the full amount deducted for the face covering when the worker’s employment ends and the worker returns the face covering to the employer.

If an employer chooses not to provide the face covering, workers are responsible for acquiring their own face covering and wearing it while at work to comply with the Executive Order.

Appropriate attire requirements are developed and enforced by the business and, in some instances, by law. Employees should speak with their employer and review the employer’s COVID-19 Preparedness Plan as well as any employee handbook or applicable employer policy.

No, Executive Order 20-54 provides that an employer cannot discriminate or retaliate against a worker for wearing a face covering that the worker has personally acquired as long as the face covering does not violate industry standards or existing employer policies related to health, safety, or decency.

The Executive Order states that a business is in compliance with the Executive Order if:

  1. The businesses' workers are wearing face coverings as required by the Executive Order;
  2. The business has updated their COVID-19 preparedness plan to address the face covering requirements to align with the requirements of the Executive Order;
  3. The business has posted one or more signs visible to all workers, customers, and visitors instructing them to wear face coverings as required by the Executive Order—meaning when indoors (all people) and, outdoors (workers only) in situations where social distancing cannot be maintained; and
  4. The business makes reasonable efforts to enforce the face covering requirements with respect to customers and visitors.

The previous four sections discuss the steps that businesses can take to ensure compliance with the Executive Order.

When assessing a situation involving potential violation of the Executive Order, a local law enforcement agency or state regulatory agency should consider the seriousness of any non-compliance. Factors relevant to the seriousness of the non-compliance include but are not limited to: the number of workers and customers not requiring face covering as required by the Executive Order; how long and how often workers and customers are not wearing face coverings; the consequences of workers and customers not wearing face coverings, including indications the business is associated with the transmission of COVID-19; and the actions taken by the business to prevent and respond to their workers' and customers' non-compliance with face covering requirements.

The objective of any enforcement action will be to achieve compliance with the Executive Order to protect the health of Minnesotans.

Executive Order 20-81 provides a limited number of exemptions from the face covering requirements. One exemption included in EO 20-81 is:

“Individuals at their workplace when wearing a face covering would create a job hazard for the individual or others, as determined by local, state or federal regulators or workplace safety and health standards and guidelines.”

Whether wearing a face covering would create a job hazard to the wearer or others is going to depend on the circumstances and should be determined on a case-by-case basis. If a business identifies a specific health or safety concern about wearing a face covering, the business must then determine whether it is possible to eliminate or minimize this concern by modifying the job task, using a substitution (such as a face shield), or by putting in place engineering or administrative controls.

A business must exhaust all possible options for eliminating or minimizing health or safety concerns before allowing a worker to work without a face covering under conditions where doing so would create a hazard.

The following are examples of commonly raised concerns about wearing face coverings in the workplace and how they can be addressed:

  • Fogging of eye protection: Fogging of eye glasses, safety glasses, or other eye protection can often be eliminated by wearing face coverings that can be adjusted to fit snugly over the nose and across the cheekbones. Fogging of eye protection while wearing a face covering can also be eliminated by using eye protection that is not susceptible to fogging, including use of face shields instead of face coverings or the use of micro-screen eye protection instead of lenses.
  • Discomfort while wearing in warm environments: A face covering alone does not cause a person to overheat and causes less risk of overheating than does wearing N95 masks. Before determining that wearing a face covering poses a job hazard due to the temperature of the work environment, the business must first determine whether the health or safety concerns associated with wearing a face covering in a warm environment can be addressed through other means, such as by keeping the work environment at a lower temperature, implementing engineering controls (e.g., improving ventilation and/or increasing air exchange), adopting administrative controls (e.g., scheduling additional cool-down breaks and ensuring proper hydration), or using equipment to help improve individual workers’ comfort (e.g., cooling vests). The business must also consider whether workers can use face coverings made out of material that is more comfortable to wear in warm environments and consider providing workers with more than one face covering so that they can be replaced during the work shift.
  • Entanglement or contamination: If wearing a face covering raises concerns about entanglement with equipment or machinery or contamination of face coverings by chemicals or dust, the business must work to eliminate the risk of entanglement or contamination rather than simply having workers remove their face coverings. Businesses may be able to eliminate risk of entanglement through engineering controls (e.g., proper machine guards) or work practices (e.g., choosing face coverings that do not have parts that can pulled into a machine, wearing a face shield over the face covering). Similarly, businesses may be able to eliminate risk of contamination through engineering controls or providing workers with additional face covering to change as needed.

If a business has exhausted all possible options for mitigating or eliminating a job hazard to the worker or others, a worker may remove their face covering but only when performing the specific hazardous task or tasks.

Workers may temporarily remove a face covering under Executive Order 20-81 when they are alone. These conditions may include when a worker is alone in:

  • An office, room, or cubicle (see FAQ regarding cubicles).
  • A vehicle.
  • Inside the cab of heavy equipment or machinery.
  • An enclosed work area.

A worker is not alone when more than one person is present in the workspace or area, even if separated by a plexiglass barrier or by 6 feet or more of distance.

A worker may temporarily remove their face covering while working alone in a cubicle if:

  • The cubicle has 4 walls (one with an opening for an entryway) that are high enough to block the breathing zone, meaning they are above face level, of the person working in the cubicle or any adjoining cubicle;
  • The work activity will not require anyone to enter the cubicle; and
  • The worker is at least 6 feet from any other workers in adjoining cubicles.

If a cubicle does not meet these requirements, the worker may not remove their mask.

If the cubicle meets these requirements the worker may temporarily remove their mask while seated in their cubicle, the worker must replace their face covering:

  • If a person approaches or enters the cubicle; or
  • Before standing and leaving the cubicle.

Operations of a business are performed indoors when performed inside a finished or unfinished roofed and walled structure. The roofing and walls can be made of various materials. Roofing and walls do not need to be air-tight and can include openings where doors, windows and/or vents have been installed.


Schools and child care settings

Face coverings are generally required for all students, staff and other people present in any kindergarten through grade 12 school buildings or district offices or riding on school transportation vehicles. To provide a consistent, safe environment for students and staff, this requirement applies equally to kindergarteners, even those aged 5 or under. Students and staff have increased flexibility to wear face shields in certain circumstances, all of which are detailed in the Executive Order found at Executive Orders from Governor Walz and 2020-2021 Planning Guide for Schools (PDF). As with other settings, children under 2 years or anyone with a medical, developmental, or behavioral condition that makes it unreasonable to wear a face covering must not wear face coverings.

Universal masking is challenging in child care settings—particularly those that serve young children—due to the importance of communication for child development. These settings also may be able to mitigate risks of transmission by grouping staff and children together in consistent “cohorts” that do not mix with others. Accordingly, the Executive Order grants flexibility to the following child care settings, as long as they serve children 5 and under: family and group day care homes (licensed under Minnesota Rules 2019, chapter 9502); child care centers (licensed under Minnesota Rules 2019, chapter 9503); certified centers (certified under Minnesota Statutes 2019, chapter 245H); legal non-licensed child care providers (defined under Minnesota Statutes 2019, section 119B, subdivision 16); certain license-exempt Head Start, public and private school programs (defined under Minnesota Statutes 2019, section 245A.03, subdivision 2 (a) (5), (13), and (26)); and other Head Start, preschool and pre-kindergarten programs.

In general, either a face covering or face shield is required for all staff in child care settings when in communal areas, hallways or lobbies. When isolated in a classroom or home care environment with one group or cohort, face coverings are strongly recommended, but not required. Children 5 years and under are exempt from the face covering requirement, and a child care setting that serves children under 5 may choose to exempt older children by fulfilling specific requirements (i.e. written notice to all families and documentation in COVID-19 Preparedness Plans). For additional requirements, guidance, and information, please refer to the Executive Order at Executive Orders from Governor Walz and MDH guidance on COVID-19 Prevention Guidance for Youth, Student, and Child Care Programs (PDF).

Concerns, questions, or complaints

If you are a business and need assistance in dealing with a noncompliant customer or visitor, you may wish to contact your local law enforcement agency for assistance if you are unable to obtain compliance through other means.

To report violations by businesses: contact local law enforcement or one of the agencies listed below, if applicable.

  • To ask questions or report violations of this Executive Order that relate to worker health and safety: Contact the Department of Labor and Industry by email at or by phone at 651-284-5050 or 1-877-470-6742.
  • To ask other workplace-related questions about this Executive Order: Contact the Department of Employment and Economic Development using the form on the following web page: Questions about Returning to Work.
  • To report violations by restaurants and food service establishments, pools, or lodging services: Follow the instructions on the MDH Online Complaint Form. In some instances, you may need to contact a local public health agency to report your complaint. Refer to the “Before reporting a complaint” section on the above web page or to the Minnesota State and Local Food, Pools, and Lodging Contacts (PDF) to determine whether a local public health agency is the right contact for your area.
  • To report discrimination in relation to this Executive Order: Contact the Minnesota Department of Human Rights at 1-833-454-0148 or submit a report at Report Discrimination Online.
  • For general questions about face covering requirements or COVID-19: Contact the Minnesota Department of Health by phone at 651-297-1304 or 1-800-657-3504, or submit an inquiry using the Have a Question? We're here to help online form.


  1. Dharmadhikari A.S., Mphahlele A., Stoltz A., et al. Surgical Face Masks Worn by Patients with Multidrug-Resistant Tuberculosis. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2012 May 15;185(10):1104-1109.
  2. Cowling B.J., Zhou Y., Ip D.K.M., et al. Face Masks to Prevent Transmission of Influenza Virus: A Systematic Review. Epidemiol Infect 2010 Apr;138(4):449-56.
  3. Eikenberry S.E., Mancuso M., Iboi E., et al. To mask or not to mask: Modeling the potential for face mask use by the general public to curtail the COVID-19 pandemic. Infect Dis Model. 2020;5;293-308.
  4. Lyu W., Wehby G. Community Use of Face Masks and COVID-19: Evidence From A Natural Experiment Of State Mandates In The US. Health Affairs, published online June 16, 2020.
  5. Brooks, J.T., Butler J.C., Redfield R.R.. Universal Masking to Prevent SARS-CoV-2 Transmission – The Time is Now. JAMA, published online July 14, 2020. Doi:10.1001/jama.2020.13107.
  6. Goldman Sachs Research. Face Masks and GDP. 2020 June 29.

Updated Wednesday, 23-Sep-2020 10:17:21 CDT