Governor Walz eases restrictions as COVID-19 cases decline

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Minnesota Governor Tim Walz speaking on Wednesday, January 6 2021 as he announced the easing of COVID-19 restrictions. Photo: YouTube Screen Grab

Minnesota Governor Tim Walz on Wednesday announced he is relaxing COVID-19 restrictions that went into effect six weeks ago as the state sees declines in new coronavirus infections and hospitalizations.

Loosened restrictions will go into effect on Monday, January 11 and will affect bars and restaurants, movie theaters, gyms and places of worship.

“We are still at a fairly high rate of infection but much lower than we were in November and December,” Walz said during a press conference. As of the time of his press conference, COVID-19 has seen 427,587 people infected and caused 5,528 deaths in Minnesota according to the Minnesota Department of Health.

The governor’s announcement comes in the wake of state health officials’ announcement that 81,167 healthcare workers have received the first dose of the two-dose COVID-19 vaccines. An earlier announcement from MDH said 396,350 doses of the COVID-19 vaccines have been allocated to the state.

The following are new eased restrictions effective January 11, 2021:

  • Indoor dining at bars and restaurants can open at 50 percent capacity, with a maximum of 150 people. Parties of no more than six people must remain six feet from other parties; bar seating is open to parties of two; reservations are required; and establishments must close dine-in service by 10 p.m.
  • Gym capacity remains capped at 25 percent but maximum capacity increases to 150 and classes can increase to 25 people, assuming distancing can be observed. Machines and people must maintain 9 feet of distance. Face coverings are required.
  • Outdoor events and entertainment continue at 25 percent capacity, but maximum capacity increases to 250 people. Social distancing is required.
  • Indoor events and entertainment – like bowling alleys, movie theaters, and museums – may open at 25 percent, with no more than 150 people in each area of the venue. Face coverings are required, and they may not offer food service after 10 p.m.
  • Youth and adult organized sports have resumed practice as of January 4 and games resume January 14 with spectators, following the appropriate capacity limits for indoor or outdoor venues. Inter-region tournaments and out of state play are discouraged.
  • Pools opened on January 4 for some activity and may now open, like gyms, at 25 percent capacity.
  • Wedding receptions and other private parties may resume with limits. If food and drink are served at the event, then they are limited to two households or 10 people indoors and 3 households or 15 people outdoors. If there is no food or drink, they are covered by event venue guidelines. Any related ceremony – like a wedding or funeral ceremony – is guided by rules for ceremonies and places of worship.
  • Places of worship remain open at 50% capacity but without an overall maximum capacity.

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