Mask order – A guide for businesses

The City of Winona’s citywide mask order took effect July 10 and runs through September 8. The Winona City Council has the ability to extend or end the order at any point.

The order requires all Winona residents and visitors to wear face coverings in indoor businesses and areas open to the public.

A large reason for this order is supporting the local economy: The order intends to keep businesses open, allow schools and universities to open this fall, and more.

Here are answers to several questions about the citywide order. If you have further specific questions, please visit for details and city staff contact info.

NOTE: The guidelines below apply only to the local order, effective only within the city of Winona. Businesses that are licensed and regulated at the state and federal levels may already be operating under different or more stringent orders, all of which would supercede this order.

Click here to download this print-ready poster to hang on your front door!


Do businesses have to require customers and employees to wear masks?
If the business is open to the general public, yes. Otherwise, masks are only required in areas of the business open to the general public (entrances, exits, lobbies, waiting rooms, etc.).

What counts as a mask or face covering?
A mask, or face covering, is a manufactured or homemade cloth covering that fully covers an individual’s nose and mouth. Items like bandanas or masks improvised in a pinch (like a t-shirt) count — just make sure they’re fully covering the nose and mouth.

What if an employee or customer presents a legitimate health concern that prevents them from wearing a mask? How do I deal with this?
There’s no definitive answer, so your own HR department is your friend here. There’s no formal exemption application. And we’re certainly not asking people to carry papers or wear signs. We’re really relying on folks — customers, employees, everyone — to use common sense, good judgment, and lots of compassion. Different businesses will take different approaches. This order is not a perfect solution, but it’s the best step we’re able to take at this time.

What’s up with these so-called exemption cards people are printing out?
Don’t fall for the bogus “exemption cards” claiming that mask orders violate ADA and HIPAA laws. They aren’t true. The Department of Justice has issued a nationwide warning that they are inaccurate, and says: “The ADA does not provide a blanket exemption to people with disabilities from complying with legitimate safety requirements necessary for safe operations.”

What about businesses in Goodview or Minnesota City?
Those are different cities, with their own councils, ordinances and rules. The City of Winona’s mask order doesn’t apply, though we certainly encourage those cities to consider a similar order.

What about Winona County buildings, like the DMV, or other government buildings like the courthouse?
Even though those buildings are in city limits, they’re under the jurisdiction of the county (or, in the case of some areas of the courthouse, the state). They are allowed to follow the city’s order, or set their own rules and guidelines.

What happens if customers don’t comply?
Customers should be asked to leave the business or area. If they refuse, or become aggressive, the business is asked to call the police. The police will speak to the person and ask them to leave. If they still refuse, they may be cited for trespassing.

What happens if employees don’t comply?
This is a conversation for you and your HR department to have. Different businesses will take different approaches, depending on the circumstances.

What happens if businesses don’t comply?
Businesses that violate the order may face administrative action for any licenses they possess with the city. 

My business says masks are optional. What do I do?
Individual businesses can set their own standards for areas not accessible to the public. If you have concerns here are two resources:

Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry COVID-19 updates

OSHA COVID-19 standards and enforcement practices


Required for employees and customers. Exceptions are for employees in areas not accessible to the general public, like stock rooms and break rooms, and outdoors.

Required for employees and customers unless the customers are seated at tables or barstools. Not required for customers seated outdoors as long as tables/seating arrangements are at least 6 feet apart.

Required for visitors and employees in areas open to the general public. Otherwise strongly encouraged whenever employees are not able to maintain 6 feet of physical distance, and in common areas and break rooms. 

Required for employees and customers in areas open to the general public. Employees are otherwise not required to wear masks, though they’re strongly urged to respect the wishes of their customers.

Required for employees and customers in areas open to the general public. Strongly recommended for employees and customers during private and one-on-one appointments as much as possible, and according to state/federal guidelines.

Required for employees and customers in areas open to the general public. Not required during workouts or classes as long as users are practicing physical distancing of at least 6 feet. Users are strongly urged to wear them when transitioning to and from workout stations/areas.

Required for employees and customers at all times while inside the vehicle, and while entering and exiting.

Required in areas open to the general public (lobbies, pre-ticketing waiting areas, etc.), when traveling to and from seats and other areas, and at all times when a customer cannot be at least 6 feet away from another person. 

Required for employees and customers in areas open to the general public. 

Not required. Operators are asked to set their own requirements and follow state/federal guidelines. Children may be asked to wear masks if they are taken to places where they are required, like retail stores.

Not required. This order asks churches and faith institutions to set their own requirements for safety and mask-wearing.

Not required. This order asks schools and universities to set their own requirements for safety and mask-wearing.

Not required. This order is for indoor spaces only. If the outdoor business has regular customers, it’s strongly recommended that they wear masks if they’re not able to physically distance from each other.