By Barbie Porter
State mandated COVID-19 restrictions loosen on Friday, May 7, and are expected to be fully removed by July 1.
During a press conference on Thursday, May 6, Gov. Tim Walz said the first step of loosening restrictions was to allow outdoor gatherings of all sizes and increasing the limit to 50 people for indoor gatherings.
Walz cited a recent scientific study and data that has show that outdoor transmission of COVID-19 is minimal. With about 2.05 million of the 5.6 million residents in the state being vaccinated, the risk for transmission indoors has also reduced, but is still present for the unvaccinated population.
For restaurants, there is no outdoor occupancy limit or distancing requirement. Indoors, table sizes can increase to 10 customers and there is no mandatory closing time.
Walz said the decision does increase the risk for some, and reminded people that businesses have the option to continue having more strict restrictions.
The second change is scheduled for Friday, May 28 when all capacity limits and distancing requirements will be removed.
However, certain requirements will remain a bit longer, including wearing a mask indoors for large outdoor events, such as a sporting events or a concert.
Businesses also must continue to have limited plans in place to keep employees and customers safe.
The mask-wearing mandate for public indoor spaces will end no later than July 1.
Walz noted when the first case came to the state the only vaccine was to social distance, but now that has changed. He added that when asked if a Minnesotan is likely to get the vaccine, the most common answer is yes.
He said that every dose protects the person getting the shot, as well as neighbors and communities.
There is no cost to receive the vaccine. To get a vaccine, contact a local health provider to make an appointment or find out about any walk-in clinics.
In Minnesota the first COVID-19 case was confirmed March 6, 2020. In the United States, 250 million have received the vaccine. Of those, it has been reported (that as of March), 970 people died after being given a vaccine shot. However, not all are confirmed deaths due to a vaccine reaction. Deaths attributed to COVID-19 in the U.S. totaled almost 580,000 as of May.
As of vaccine restrictions, the age limit has been reduced to 16 years and older.
Walz put out a plea to those who are dissatisfied with the way he managed the state during the epidemic and encouraged them to get a vaccination to “make sure you’re around next November so you can cast that vote … don’t blow this now.”