MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — During a press conference outlining his plan to end most COVID-19 restrictions, Gov. Tim Walz spoke out about the politicization around masks, saying “it cost lives.”

Walz’s comments came Thursday when he was asked why he was incentivizing the vaccine by pushing the mask mandate’s end. Walz says the goal is to get 70% of eligible Minnesotans administered at least one dose of the vaccine before lifting the mask mandate. However, it will be lifted no later than July 1.

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“I just want to note on this. The politicization around masks, I think history is going to write as one of the worst things that’s happened to this country,” Walz said. “I think it cost lives. I think it’s stupid. It’s the least intrusive thing we can do.”

Walz says he’s a fan of incentivizing the vaccine for some people, and that he’s putting the power in the people’s hands to get vaccinated, which will help end all restrictions.

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Throughout the pandemic, there have been numerous protests at the governor’s home, calling for an end to restrictions and the mask mandate. A significant number of the protesters did not wear masks, with some saying they are “not scared” of the virus.

Protesters call on Gov. Walz to unmask Minnesota in August of 2020 (Photo by: Michael Siluk/Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

“If you don’t like the mask, then let’s get vaccinated,” Walz said. “I also put a date on it. We might not be to 70% … I think we will be, say we’re not, we’re still removing that mandate because the number will be relatively close to that threshold.”

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Walz’s timeline, a three-step plan, comes as more than two million Minnesotans have been fully vaccinated. By Friday, outdoor limits for businesses and get-togethers will end; by May 28, capacity limits will be lifted for indoor gatherings.