WINONA — Starting a minute after midnight on Friday morning, people in the city of Winona will be required to wear masks indoors in public buildings where physical distancing is difficult, according to a statement made by the city Tuesday.

Mayor Mark Peterson enacted the order under the local emergency declaration approved by the city council last spring as part of the response to COVID-19. The city council may extend or end the order at any point.

"The single most important action any Winonan can take to prevent the spread of COVID is to wear a mask," Peterson said. “This is the right thing to do. This order will help keep our businesses open, allow our schools and universities to open this fall, and most importantly, protect the health and safety of all Winona residents."

According to the order, a mask refers to a manufactured or homemade cloth covering that fully covers a person's nose and mouth. The city will make arrangements to provide free masks at accessible locations to residents in need.

The requirement includes the following situations: when individuals are closer than 6 feet to another person, such as employees of retail businesses; public transportation users; patrons of bars and restaurants when not seated at tables; gym users; and entertainment venue attendees.

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Exemptions include those with medical, disability or developmental reasons; such as children younger than 2; youth sports; dining; public speaking; businesses, such as salons under equal or more strict orders; and buildings not under city control, such as county and state facilities.

Individuals not complying with the order will be asked to leave the business or area. If that person refuses, law enforcement may enforce trespassing laws. Businesses that violate the proclamation may face administrative action for any licenses they possess with the city.

For more information on the order, visit the City of Winona website at www.cityofwinona.com/maskorder.