It isn't mandatory to wear a face mask when leaving your home in Minnesota, but Gov. Tim Walz is strongly advising everyone to wear one when visiting a place where social distancing is difficult to maintain.
Walz's recommendation comes as he allows the Stay-at-Home order to expire Monday, being replaced by a "Stay Safe MN" order that will allow malls and other customer-facing retail stores to open at up to 50 percent capacity after being locked down since mid-March because of the COVID-19 outbreak.
"Everything that we've done will not have as big of impact if people choose to [not] wear masks. I'm telling people, not wearing a mask is not a sign of rebellion, it's just hurting your neighbor," Gov. Walz said.
"I get it that people are frustrated with the shutdown, but the way to protest that is to yell at me or whatever, but not wearing a mask makes it worse."
Per executive order 20-56, Walz wrote: "I strongly encourage all Minnesotans to wear a manufactured or homemade cloth face covering when they leave their homes and travel to any public setting where social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.
Medical experts have determined that wearing a mask can protect others if you cough or sneeze, but there is not enough evidence yet to definitively say wearing a mask will protect you from someone not wearing a mask.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention maintains that the general public only use cloth masks while donating all surgical masks and N95 respirator masks to healthcare workers due to a global competition for the masks making them difficult to obtain, thus threatening the state's supply.
The Mayo Clinic notes that countries that have mandated wearing masks have tended to have had more success in slowing the spread of the virus. "But wearing a cloth face mask will lose any value unless it's combined with frequent hand-washing and social distancing," Mayo added.
The "Stay Safe MN" order allows Minnesotans to resume social functions of 10 people or less, but it asks people to stay close to home, limit travel and to make sure to social distance and wear a mask.
"The biggest factor we can have is the social distancing and smart strategies. And people are going to have to do those on their own," Gov. Walz concluded.