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Wearing A Face Mask When It's Not Required


All Illinoisans are required to wear a mask when they are doing things like grocery shopping, using public transportation or any other activity where they can’t maintain a distance of six feet. This order went into effect May 1. But what about other things like walking or running outside?  

The Illinois Department of Public Health’s guidelines suggest that masks are not needed when you are doing things like mowing your lawn or even running and walking in your neighborhood.

Sandra Martell is the public health administrator for Winnebago County. She said that although a mask isn’t required, people should be prepared.

“I think it always becomes important for people to always be intentional about it. To have one with them if they need to wear one,” she said. “They see someone approaching them to be able to put that on or if they are going to pass someone, to make sure that they can put one on as well.”

She said there is a theoretical risk that extends past a direct encounter. Martell said a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine suggests the virus can stay in the air for up to three hours.

She said she understands that some people aren’t used to covering their faces.  But she explained there are other things that we didn’t do that we are now accustomed to.

“And how do we help people understand that this is an expectation just like wearing a seat belt was in our car," she said. "And if you were to talk to our families earlier, seat belts were not a standard issued item."

Martell said the public needs to do what is needed to minimize its risk of exposure.