Minnesotans are urged to enjoy the outdoors — but stay close to home

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources issued a clarification this week of the state’s position on outdoor recreation during the COVID-19 outbreak, saying people are encouraged to get outside and enjoy the outdoors, but they should do by staying close to home.

State officials explained that the spirit of Governor Walz’s “stay-at-home” order is that people stay near their communities for recreation, even if the letter of the law doesn’t specifically say that.  This means Minnesotans should not take trips across the state to go fishing, hunting, hiking, or mushroom hunting.  Instead, they should remain near their homes.

While acknowledging that Minnesotans have deeply cherished outdoor traditions and the current situation is hard on everyone, DNR officials stress that people need to use common sense about where they should be outdoors until the order is lifted.  The spirt of the “stay-at-home” order is that people do not travel outside of their own communities for outdoor recreation.

In a recent statement, Governor Walz’s office reminded Minnesotans that while the “stay-at home” order allows outdoor recreation, it is not a blank check to travel.

“To save lives, we need as many Minnesotans to stay home as possible. The exemptions are meant to be narrow and allow for the continuation of critical health and safety functions. Although the executive order doesn’t prohibit traveling for outdoor recreation, the Governor strongly urges all Minnesotans to stay close to their primary residences,” the statement noted. “If people do go out, they are asked to maintain strict social distancing. Staying home helps protect your neighbors from spreading COVID-19 and also avoids crowding rural medical facilities. Avoiding this kind of travel makes us all safer and healthier.”

It remains unknown how long the “stay-at-home” order may be in place or whether COVID-19 restrictions will remain in effect when the fishing and boating season normally kicks into high gear.  One of the state’s most popular events, the general fishing opener, is still set for May 9, and anglers are asked to stay near their own communities, close to home.

Further information about the DNR’s COVID-19 response can be found here.