Normalcy on The Horizon – Gov. Tim Walz

Day 351: Stay Safe Minnesota

Effective March 15, Gov. Walz ordered major rollback of Minnesota’s COVID-19 restrictions for gathering and relaxed capacity for bars, restaurants and large sport and religious venues.

Almost a year ago on March 25, Gov. Walz ordered “STAY HOME” emergency measures to Minnesotan. After almost a year, starting at noon Monday March 15, “people will be able to gather in groups of up to 50 people outdoors and 15 indoors, while indoor capacity at bars and restaurants will increase to 75 percent. Bar seating will increase to parties of four”, reports MPR News.

In the Star Tribune, Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Jeremy Olson writes “While public mask-wearing and social distancing requirements will remain, Minnesota will allow in-person work again, lift capacity limits for worship services and permit up to 10,000 fans at the Twins home opener April 8”.

We’re beating this thing. We are going to win. It may not be the end but it’s sure the beginning of the end. Normalcy is on the horizon.

Gov. Tim Walz, while announcing major Covid-19 Rollbacks (source: MPR News)

Gov. Walz urged Minnesotans “to continue wearing masks and socially distance in indoor gathering spaces and take other steps to stem the spread. Masking has the biggest positive effect beyond vaccines and the mask mandate will probably be one of the last curbs lifted.”

Jan Malcolm, MN Health Commissioner told reporters that there is concerns of COVID variants spread and the state expects to learn its impact in the next four weeks.

“Just because the variant is there and generating more cases isn’t necessarily the only determining factor. It’s what do those cases lead to in terms of hospitalizations and deaths.”

In the Star Tribune, Jeremy Olson writes that there are about 200 cases of COVID-19 (B.1.1.7 variant) in Minnesota which are clustered in suburban Carver County.

The MinnPost’s data reporter Greta Kaul has summarized (below) Gov. Walz‘s announcement which will take effect on Monday, March 15:

  • Social gatherings can have up to 50 people outdoors or up to 15 people indoors. There will be no limit on the number of households in attendance. Previously, indoor gatherings could include up to 10 people from no more than two households. Outdoor gatherings could include up to 15 people from no more than three households.
  • Youth sport pod sizes can increase to 50 for outdoor sporting activities. Pod sizes were previously 25.
  • Religious services will no longer have an occupancy limit, but social distancing remains a requirement. The previous occupancy limit was 50 percent capacity.
  • Bars and restaurants can go from 50 percent capacity to 75 percent capacity, up to a limit of 250 people, and tables must remain six feet apart. The limits to indoor and outdoor capacity are considered separate, and parties of up to four can sit at bars. Establishments must continue to close by 11 p.m. DEED Commissioner Steve Grove said the closing time was tied to data about when restaurant and bar outbreaks are likely to occur.
  • Salons and barbers will no longer have occupancy limits, but social distancing will be required. Occupancy limits were previously set at 50 percent capacity.
  • Gyms, fitness centers and pools can go from 25 percent capacity to 50 percent capacity. Outdoor classes will have a new limit of 50 people.
  • Entertainment venues can go from 25 percent capacity to 50 percent capacity, indoors and outdoors, up to 250 people.
  • Large venues will be allowed to open at 50 percent capacity, for up to 250 people. Social distancing remains a requirement. Venues with capacity of over 500 under normal conditions can add more guests starting April 1.
  • Working from home will no longer be required “but it will continue to be strongly recommended,” the statement says. It encourages employers to accommodate workers who want to continue working from home.

According to the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) long-term care facilities should allow “responsible” indoor visiting for all residents, regardless of the vaccination status of residents or visitors, with some limitations.

COVID-19 Vaccination Watch

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) COVID vaccination tracker page (as of Mar 13, 9 a.m.) 135,846,665 doses have been distributed and 105,703,501 doses administered. According MDH COVID-19 Response vaccine data (as of Mar 11) a total of 1,856,323 doses of Covid-19 (Pfizer & Moderna) vaccines have been administered in Minnesota. According to the MDH latest tally (as of Mar 13) the confirmed COVID-19 cases in Minnesota are 496,395 (out of 7,729,438 tested) with 6,741 deaths.