A lot of words come to mind when talking about COVID-19, not the least of which is 'confusing.' Information changes. Science changes. The message changes. There's a new angle on an almost daily basis.

On Saturday, Minnesota's statewide face mask mandate went into effect, as ordered by Governor Tim Walz. The Executive Order states that all Minnesotans must wear a mask in all indoor businesses and public indoor spaces, unless alone.

But what about outdoors? The short answer is, no. Although the wearing of a face mask is strongly recommended outdoors when social distancing (six feet minimum) cannot be maintained.

From the governor's executive order 20-81:

Minnesotans must wear a face covering in an indoor business or public indoor space, including when waiting outdoors to enter an indoor business or public indoor space, as described in this order and the related industry guidance, available at the Stay Safe Minnesota website (https://staysafe.mn.gov). Workers must also wear face coverings outdoors when it is not possible to maintain social distancing.

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Also included in the order regarding masks in the outdoors:

Face coverings are strongly encouraged during indoor or outdoor private social gatherings (e.g., when visiting at a private home with friends or relatives who do not reside in the same household), particularly in settings where it is difficult or impossible to maintain social distancing.

So it sounds like, in general, we're not required to wear a face mask outdoors -- unless we're waiting to enter a business or public building. Outdoor workers are required to mask-up when social distance cannot be maintained, and that's also strongly recommended for the rest of us.


The State of Minnesota is asking us to continue to all do our part, saying wearing a mask is simple - nearly everyone can do it. When paired with other steps, like staying six feet apart, washing your hands, and staying home when possible, we can stay safe.

Pete Hanson is on 98.1 Minnesota's New Country weekday mornings from 5:30 to 10:00.

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