MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Gov. Tim Walz on Thursday announced his plan to end the COVID-19 restrictions that have been in effect for over a year.
Walz’s 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. The mask mandate will be lifted by July 1 or sooner, if 70% of Minnesotans are vaccinated beforehand.
Minnesota Republicans, however, are arguing that the dial-back is too slow for businesses to return to normal, and are pushing for Walz to end his emergency powers.
Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka said that his reaction was simple: Walz’s plan is “not good enough and not soon enough.”
Gazelka noted that vaccines have been available to younger, healthy people for weeks, and as the state has an abundant supply of shots and appointments, businesses should not have to wait until Memorial Day to open fully.
“This announcement won’t allow for kids to finish the year with normal graduations and celebrations like prom, or allow normal participation in sports and activities,” he said. “Outdoor spaces are still limited by distancing despite all the evidence that the outdoors is safe. A ‘normal’ summer is still a long way off.”
Inbox: Senate Majority Leader @paulgazelka responds to Gov. Walz's timeline to end COVID restrictions –
"My reaction today is simple: Not good enough and not soon enough. The emergency is over and the mandates need to end." #mnleg
— Caroline Cummings (@CaroRCummings) May 6, 2021
“We don’t need the emergency powers, and we don’t need to be micromanaging Minnesotans. Leadership matters and real leaders listen to stakeholders and determine the best path forward — together. On this leadership test, the Governor has failed,” said Rep. Dave Baker, R-Crown.
House Minority Leader Rep. Kurt Daudt said “the data clearly shows we’ve made incredible progress reducing case counts and getting Minnesotans vaccinated, but the Governor insists on holding on to powers he doesn’t need — it’s time to open up and end the emergency powers.”
DFL leaders within the Minnesota legislature argue that Walz has made decisions based on science, which has allowed the state to have the lowest death rate compared to neighboring states and the highest percentage of vaccines administered.
“As more and more Minnesotans receive the vaccine, Governor Walz’s approach to wind down restrictions is consistent with his earlier decisions – thoughtful and measured,” said Senate DFL Leader Susan Kent. “The plan continues his approach to use science to keep people safe, while allowing businesses and customers to safely engage.”
With the plan in place, DFL leaders, including House Speaker Melissa Hortman, are asking Minnesotans to continue to get vaccinated “so that we can stay ahead of any variants, get our state fully opened, and get back to the things we have missed since COVID-19 started.”
“From the start, Republican politicians told Americans COVID-19 was ‘just like the flu’ and Donald Trump told us it would go away ‘like a miracle.’ Democrats are defeating COVID because we have taken a public health approach informed by scientists, not armchair epidemiologists,” said House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler.
Walz says additional protections will remain in place, including an eviction moratorium and a ban on price gouging.
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