The Detroit Lakes Regional Chamber of Commerce is distributing 16,000 disposal paper face masks, a move designed to help Becker County businesses comply with a state order requiring face masks to be worn in public places.

Businesses can give the masks to customers that show up without one, or provide them to employees, said Chamber President Carrie Johnston. “It’s a start-up (supply) for a business,” she said Thursday. “We just got our shipment.”

Businesses should pre register with the chamber today (Thursday) at 218-847-9202 and then pick up the masks at a drive-through distribution being held Friday at the chamber, located at 700 Summit Avenue in Detroit Lakes.

While supplies last, masks can also be picked up next week by businesses that miss the drive-through distribution, she said.

“It’s open to any business in the county,” Johnston said. “We have about half of them (the available masks) pre-registered for already,” she said Thursday morning.

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The chamber has already been in touch with city officials across the county “so they can let their businesses know,” the masks are available, she said.

Statewide, Minnesota is distributing more than 4 million masks to businesses, their customers, and people who are unable to afford a mask or easily obtain one, according to a news release from the governor’s office.

The masks are being distributed to chambers of commerce, community organizations, and other providers across the state, who are then responsible for distributing to people.

“There’s no better way to demonstrate our Minnesotan values than by wearing a mask to slow the spread of COVID-19,” said Gov. Tim Walz. “We are working to ensure masks are accessible for businesses and Minnesotans throughout the state. I urge everyone to mask up to protect our neighbors, keep our businesses open, and get us on track to return to the activities we love.”

Walz signed an executive order last week requiring Minnesotans to wear a face covering in indoor businesses and indoor public settings.

Researchers have advocated for masking, calling it a simple and effective step to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus. To date, 30 states across the country, Washington D.C., and Puerto Rico have issued similar mandates, according to the news release.

The one-time allotment of masks includes 4 million disposable masks for businesses and more than 300,000 cloth masks for underserved and at-risk communities.

The largest chamber in each county will receive a shipment of disposable masks, based on the number of employees in that county. Each chamber receiving masks has agreed to distribute them to local businesses, both those who are chamber members and those who are not, free of charge.

The masks are coming from the state’s stockpile. These are masks the state purchased to distribute to organizations that need it, including local health departments, hospitals, long-term care facilities, community testing events, and more.