Biden wants to enact a national mask mandate, but has no legal authority to enforce such an order

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Democratic nominee Joe Biden is calling for a national mask mandate to fight the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19). However, experts believe he may not have the legal authority to pass a sweeping mask order without any congressional action supporting it. The former vice president made this declaration during a meeting with the executive committee of the National Governor’s Association on Thursday, Nov. 19.

“We discussed the implementation of a national mask mandate,” said Biden about the meeting. “10 governors, Democrat and Republican, have imposed masking requirements and recognized the need for universal masking… It’s not a political statement, it’s a patriotic duty.”

This meeting was conducted virtually. The National Governor’s Association’s executive committee is bipartisan and is chaired by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. It includes five Republican governors, committee vice chair Gov. Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas and the GOP governors of Utah, Massachusetts, Maryland and Alabama.

This is the first time that Biden has publicly met with high-ranking Republican officials.

During the meeting, Biden also promised that he will not be implementing a massive economic lockdown similar to the one that was put in place earlier this year.

“I am not going to shut down the economy, period,” said Biden. “I am going to shut down the virus. That’s what I’m going to shut down. I’ll say it again: No national shutdown. No national shutdown.”

However, Biden did say that the American public should expect limited restrictions in certain jurisdictions based on the severity of their coronavirus outbreak.

“It’s not shutting down, it’s calibrating based on what the threat is.”