ROCHESTER, Minn. - If you’re fully vaccinated you can now walk around mostly mask-free in Minnesota. Gov. Tim Walz is ending the state’s mask mandate after federal health officials recommend that fully vaccinated people don’t have to wear masks in most situations.
Businesses are able to make their own decisions about whether to ask customers or employees to mask up. At Chester’s Kitchen & Bar in Rochester staff will follow the updated guidelines.
Previously the mask mandate was set to expire in Minnesota on July 1st or when 70% of Minnesotans older than 15 have received at least one shot of vaccine.
Executive chef Derek Jensen says the lifted restrictions caught everyone a bit off guard but the restaurant will be fine with employees and customers taking off masks as long as they are fully vaccinated.
He says that will be monitored on the honor system. While Chester’s is allowing the mask-less potion Jensen believes people will still opt to wear them.
He explained, “For us specifically, in the shadow of the Mayo Clinic, a lot of people are coming here with illnesses and they're going to be concerned. I still think we'll see a lot of masks going forward. I wouldn't be surprised. I've talked to a couple of people who are vaccinated; they still plan on wearing their mask.”
Minnesota health officials are still encouraging mask-wearing among those who are not fully vaccinated although that guidance doesn’t have the legal force of a mandate.
Cathleen Johnson from Chatfield spoke with KIMT about the change and after excitedly ripping off her mask she said, “What I do hope is the people who aren't vaccinated will respect those who are and continue to wear the mask to protect themselves and others but those of us that are vaccinated I just feel like it's time.”
Preet Sidhu from the Twin Cities also said he’s looking forward to having the option to take his mask off after being fully vaccinated and hopes others will see the new guidelines as an incentive.
He explained, “It should encourage people who are not vaccinated to join the crowd and wear no mask inside or the risk themselves. So, I think it's a good idea.”
We’re, of course, not getting rid of masks entirely. The CDC says regardless of vaccination status masks should still be worn in crowded indoor settings like airplanes and hospitals.