Am I Required to Wear a Mask During the COVID-19 Pandemic?
The outbreak of COVID-19 has changed everyday life in many ways. Both federal and state governments have released guidelines and orders to help slow the outbreak of the Coronavirus. Although there isn’t a federal requirement to wear masks in public, some state governments and businesses have required citizens and patrons to use face masks.
Has the Federal Government Required the Use of Masks in Public?
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has recommended wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain. While the CDC has issued redocumentations and guidelines during the COVID-19 pandemic, there have not been federal laws enacted requiring social distancing or the use of masks.
Have States Required the Use of Masks in Public?
Although there hasn’t been a federal order requiring the use of masks in public, several states have issued orders mandating the use of masks in public places. In states such as New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order requiring all New York State residents over the age of 2 to wear a facemask, covering their mouth and nose. As of April 20, there are seven states in total requiring facemasks when residents visit public places. The states that have required residents to cover their faces are Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island.
Can States Constitutionally Issue an Order Requiring the Use of Masks?
These state orders requiring the use of masks, are a use of police powers. The Tenth Amendment of the Constitution grants powers not delegated to the United States by the constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, to the states respectively, or to the people. In many cases, this 10th Amendment power is utilized by state governors or local health departments. However, if states were to enforce these orders to specific social classes, there may be violations of citizens 14th Amendment rights to equal protection.
Has Minnesota Required Citizens to Wear a Mask in Public?
Minnesota Governor Tim Walz issued a stay at home order limiting social gatherings and non-essential travel, at this time there is not a requirement to wear a mask in public places. This does not imply however, that the State will never require the use of facemasks in public. After the shelter in place order expires on May 15, 2020, Minnesota State officials will likely reassess the threat of COVID-19 and either increase or decrease restrictions.
Can Private Businesses Require Citizens to Wear Masks?
While there is no Minnesota State mandate requiring the use of facemasks, businesses can require the use of masks in their stores. Companies such as Costco have required guests to wear covering over their mouth and nose while in their retail stores. Any shoppers who don’t abide by the company’s mandatory mask policy, will simply be refused entry by store employees.