Latest loosening of statewide COVID-19 restrictions addresses gatherings, venues | KSTP.com

Latest loosening of statewide COVID-19 restrictions addresses gatherings, venues

In this file photo, fans snag tickets for the Twins-Indians matchup on Opening Day 2019. Photo: KSTP/Joe Mazan, file. In this file photo, fans snag tickets for the Twins-Indians matchup on Opening Day 2019.

Rebecca Omastiak
Updated: March 12, 2021 06:15 PM
Created: March 12, 2021 08:54 AM

Friday, Gov. Tim Walz and other state officials announced adjustments to statewide COVID-19 mitigation efforts, particularly concerning gatherings and venues, which will begin taking effect Monday.

The decision to loosen some restrictions, according to officials, is the result of the current case rate and continuing efforts to vaccinate Minnesotans.

"Minnesotans should continue to take simple steps to protect the progress we've made, but the data shows that we are beating COVID-19," Walz said in a statement. "Our vaccine rollout is leading the nation, the most vulnerable Minnesotans are getting the shot, and it is becoming increasingly more safe to return to our daily lives. The sun is shining brighter."

The following new adjustments are set to take effect at noon on Monday:

  • Social gatherings can now include up to 50 people outdoors or 15 people for indoor gatherings, both without household limits.
  • Pod size for youth sports can increase to 50 people for outdoor activities.
  • For religious services, the occupancy limit will be lifted, but social distancing will continue to be required.
  • Other celebrations must follow individual venue guidance.
  • Bars and restaurants will be allowed occupancy up to 75%, with a limit of 250 people, with indoor versus outdoor limits applied separately. Bar seating will increase to parties of four people.
  • Salons and barbershops will be able to remove the occupancy limit, but social distancing will continue to be required.
  • Gyms, fitness centers and pools will be allowed occupancy up to 50%, while outdoor classes can increase to include 50 people.
  • Entertainment venues will be allowed, both indoors and outdoors, occupancy up to 50%, with a limit of 250 people.

Then, additional adjustments are set to take effect April 1:

  • Seated, outdoor venues will be able to add an additional 25% of their capacity over 500, with a limit of 10,000 people.
  • Outdoor venues that are non-seated can add an additional 15% of their capacity over 500, with a limit of 10,000 people.
  • Seated indoor venues can add an additional 15% of their capacity over 500, with a limit of 3,000 people.
  • Indoor venues that are non-seated can add an additional 10% of their capacity over 500, with a limit of 1,500 people.

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Looking further ahead, state officials said remote work will no longer be required, but will continue "to be strongly recommended," starting April 15. State officials are continuing to encourage mask-wearing, social distancing, hand washing, and other health safety measures as more Minnesotans return to the workplace.

During a press conference Friday morning, Walz said another three to four weeks of watching the variants will help officials learn more about the variants and possibly lead to another easing of restrictions if there aren't any concerning trends.

To those still waiting for a vaccine, Walz said, "It's gonna be weeks, not months, before all of you get the chance to get a shot, please take it."

Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said, in a statement, "This dial turn is possible thanks to all the hard work so many Minnesotans have done. At the same time, it's important to not let our guard down until we've finished the job. COVID-19 is still circulating in our communities, and we're seeing the new variants more frequently. We need to keep up the prevention measures like masking, social distancing, staying home when sick, and getting tested when appropriate. Those basic tools – along with the safe and effective vaccines – will help us end this pandemic and get to those brighter days ahead."

KSTP's complete COVID-19 coverage

Click the video boxes below to see Friday's press conference and a question-and-answer session.


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