MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Gov. Tim Walz announced Thursday that the state will end remaining restrictions on outdoor limits and indoor activities by May 28 and will lift the mask mandate by July 1 or sooner, depending on how quickly 70% of the state’s 16+ population gets their first vaccine shot.
However, local governments will still be able to set their own mask policies and other requirements beyond July 1. That leaves some of Minnesota’s larger cities mulling over whether they expect to drop their mask mandates at the same time as the rest of the state does.
As of right now, Minneapolis and St. Paul authorities say they’re looking into the situation.
“We followed the data in becoming the first in the state to issue a mask requirement, and we will follow the data in determining when to lift it in Minneapolis. If the data leading up to July 1 shows that some form of mask requirement will help save lives, then we will keep the requirement in place,” Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said Thursday.
A statement from St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter’s office read in part that the city is “likely to renew its previous municipal mask requirement before July 1 as we work in close consultation with our local public health professionals to determine when a masking measure is safe and appropriate to lift in our community.”
Duluth officials say that their mask mandate will expire as soon as the governor’s emergency declaration ends:
“Unless pre-empted by executive order of the Governor, Duluth’s local mask mandate will automatically void when Governor Walz ends his Declaration of Local Emergency related to COVID-19, which has not yet happened. The City of Duluth will continue to follow the status of the pandemic closely, as well as guidance from the Minnesota Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In the meantime, Duluth residents should continue to follow the local mask mandate as well as all other local, state, and federal COVID-19 protocols and guidance.”
Mankato’s mask mandate has already expired, and an official said the city council hasn’t discussed a new or renewed mandate.
St. Cloud’s mayor said his city will be following the governor’s guidance.
WCCO has reached out to officials in Rochester is waiting to hear back.
The first step in the plan to end restrictions takes place this Friday, with more loosening of restrictions taking place primarily in outdoor settings. The limit will be removed for outdoor dining, events, and other get-togethers. The mask requirement will also end for outdoors except for large venues with over 500 people.
The second phase of the plan is ending capacity and social distancing limits on May 28. These include ending the requirement for face coverings indoors and for outdoor events that exceed 500 people.
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