Non-maskers not likely to be cited or fined

Local News

No shirt. No shoes. No service.

In the 1960s and 1970s it was a way of keeping long-haired hippies out of stores and restaurants.

While not federal or a state law, it’s has become an accepted and effective norm.

But, try to convince residents that wearing a face covering may help stop the spread of COVID-19.

That’s a different story.

Despite signs encouraging Winnebago residents entering public indoor spaces or businesses to wear a mask, some are defying Gov. Tim Walz’s executive order.

People who do not comply with the requirement can receive a petty misdemeanor citation and a fine of up to $100.

However, that’s not likely to happen.

“We will suggest someone wear a mask. We will not charge someone,” says Police Chief Eric Olson.

So far, Blue Earth Police Chief Tom Fletcher says his department hasn’t had any problems with non-compliers.

“We have not taken any reports on mask issues at all,” says Fletcher. “The Minnesota Department of Public Safety recommendation is education before enforcement.”

Businesses violating the mandate may be subject to criminal charges, civil fines up to $25,000 and government action to regulate the business.

Although local authorities aren’t eager to hand out citations, incidents that are reported will not be ignored.

“We would respond to the calls and forward them on to the proper health organization,” says Olson. “They could investigate it from there.”

The statewide order encourages children between ages 2 and 5 to wear masks, but doesn’t require it.

Also, cities are allowed to impose stricter requirements and it will remain in effect until the state’s peacetime emergency ends.

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