30 states mandate masks, while ND steers away from a statewide mandate

Published: Jul. 27, 2020 at 6:08 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - More than half of the states have mask-wearing requirements, including Montana and Minnesota.

Although rules for every state with a mandate vary, there are key components in each policy. For example, most require masks in indoor public areas like retail establishments and restaurants and outdoors when groups are too large and social distancing isn’t possible.

Most also include exemptions for young children, people with disabilities, and those with medical conditions where wearing a mask is difficult.

Mask mandates have been adopted by 30 states and the District of Columbia, but North Dakota leadership said enforcing the face covering regulations simply doesn’t work.

“This is probably one of the most impossible things to try and mandate from a government standpoint,” said Gov. Doug Burgum, R-N.D.

But, Burgum and state health department leaders are still recommending those who can wear them, do so.

“Our approach has always been let’s try to put information out, give people the correct information, let people make informed decisions on what they want to do, encourage them to wear the mask, and hopefully they make that decision,” said Director of Disease Control Kirby Kruger.

Instead of mandates, state leaders are calling on North Dakota businesses and residents to wear their masks when in public.

“When you’re active and out and about, whether it’s a gas station or a grocery store or some other place, if you wear your mask then you’re doing your part,” said Burgum. State health officials said the recent increase in positive coronavirus cases in North Dakota could push more people to wear masks.

“They’ll see that and they’ll say, yeah maybe this is a good idea. I’ve really noticed an increase in people wearing masks,” said Kruger.

Ultimately, the state has decided to let people make their own decision.

With active COVID-19 cases climbing in the state, North Dakota Department of Health leaders are still strongly encouraging mask wearing in public, even though a mandate is not expected in the state’s future.

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