Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz announced a major easement of COVID-19 restrictions Friday, March 12 amid falling cases, increasing vaccinations and work with a “strong federal partner.” The changes will go into effect Monday, March 15.
Nearly 1.2 million Minnesotans and more than 70 percent of seniors have gotten a shot, Walz said Friday. The state recently moved forward to the next vaccination groups weeks ahead of schedule.
“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,” Walz stated in a Friday release.
Walz said the state will continue to work toward getting all students back in their classrooms — as of Friday, 90 percent of schools in Minnesota once again offer in-person learning and 60 percent of teachers in the state have been vaccinated.
Bars and restaurants will now be allowed to operate at 75 percent capacity, with a limit of 250 people, and bar seating increases to parties of four. Gyms, fitness centers and entertainment venues will now be allowed to operate at 50 percent capacity, both up from 25 percent in January. Entertainment venues will have a maximum capacity of 250 people.
Religious services and salons and barbers are allowed to remove their occupancy limits altogether, though social distancing is required.
As of Monday, all venues can open at 50 percent capacity, with up to 250 people. Venues with normal occupant capacity over 500 can add additional guests.
Other updates include:
- Social gatherings of up to 50 people outdoors or 15 people indoors are allowed without household limits
- Youth sports pod size will increase to 50 for outdoor activities
- Celebrations will follow venue guidance
- Outdoor exercise/gym classes can increase to 50 people
Beginning April 1:
- Seated outdoor venues can add an additional 25 percent of their capacity over 500, with a limit of 10,000 people
- Non-seated outdoor venues can add an additional 15 percent of their capacity over 500, with a limit of 10,000 people
- Seated indoor venues can add an additional 15 percent of their capacity over 500, with a limit of 3,000 people
- Non-seated indoor venues can add an additional 10 percent of their capacity over 500, with a limit of 1,500 people
Work from home will not be required beginning April 15, he announced, but all employers should continue to accommodate employees who wish to work from home. Walz also encouraged Minnesotans to continue wearing masks and social distancing.
“The thaw is here, but in Minnesota we know better than to let our guard down at the first sign of spring,” Walz said. “Keep doing what you need to do to stay safe, and we’ll get through this together.”