BEMIDJI -- When Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz on Wednesday announced an indoor mask mandate for the state, he had help in delivering the message from a Bemidji business owner

Hannah Peura, owner of Compass Rose, spoke at the event where Walz announced an executive order requiring Minnesotans to wear face coverings in indoor businesses and public settings. The mandate goes into effect Saturday, July 25. According to a news release, state departments will assist in distributing masks to underserved businesses and communities.

Walz's announcement came just a short while after the city of Bemidji enacted a mask mandate by amending its emergency declaration Monday, July 20. Around the same time, Peura was asked to join the event with Walz.

"I had about 48 hours to prep before the speech, so it was a very fast situation," Peura said. "Every person's business is very personal, so I wanted to make sure that I wasn't speaking for others. I wanted to be sure to share my story, the struggles of the business and the evolution on how I felt about wearing masks, and having them be mandated."

Peura said she wasn't chosen to speak at the event because she is the No. 1 pro-mask business owner in the state. In fact, for a time, she had been for allowing people to have a choice in the matter.

Newsletter signup for email alerts

"Recently, with the influx of tourists at our city, and with COVID being more prevalent in our county, it has made me change my mind and evolve my feelings about wearing a mask," Peura said. "At this point, I feel it's a small inconvenience to what the consequences can be."

With Bemidji already under a mandate and the state getting its own, Peura said she hopes the community can come together and support the face mask effort.

"As business owners, now that it is mandated, it doesn't help for us to be arguing with each other," Peura said. "I hope for a Bemidji that can be stronger through this pandemic, instead of divided. With political views aside, I hope we can do what's best for the community as a whole."