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COVID In Minnesota: Executive Council Ends Statewide Mask Mandate

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Minnesota’s statewide mask mandate is no longer in effect.

An executive council voted 5-0 to lift the mask mandate early Friday afternoon following updated guidance from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, which said fully vaccinated people can forgo their masks in most indoor and outdoor settings.

Local governments still have the ability to instill their mandates; both Minneapolis and St. Paul’s will remain in effect for the time being. Private businesses too are able to enforce their own guidelines.

However the CDC guidance does not apply to health care settings, such as hospitals, doctors’ offices, and long-term care facilities. Correctional facilities and homeless shelters will also still require masks, as will planes, trains, and other forms of public transportation, including Metro Transit.

Previously, Gov. Tim Walz’s timeline indicated that the mandate would be lifted on July 1 or sooner if 70% of Minnesotans aged 16 and older were fully vaccinated. State health officials said Friday that roughly 60% of Minnesotans in that age bracket had received at least one vaccine dose; 50% had completed the series.

On Thursday evening, Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm expressed her reservations about the announcement, saying she had “mixed feelings,” and the MDH guidance “will remain that people who are not vaccinated are still at risk.”

Walz said that though he was still analyzing information from the announcement, he was “excited,” calling it a “great day” for Minnesota.

The CDC defines “fully vaccinated” as two weeks after the second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, or two weeks after the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

“The science demonstrates that if you are fully vaccinated, you are protected,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said Thursday afternoon. “It is the people who are not fully vaccinated in those settings, who might not be wearing a mask, who are not protected.”

Minnesota Republicans have been urging Walz to end his executive powers and his lift restrictions on businesses for the past year; the CDC announcement renewed their push.

Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka said it was “about time” Walz lifted the mandate and Jennifer Carnahan, chair of the Republican party, said the mandate has “harmed our economy and business, children’s education, senior’s health and the overall vibrancy of our lives.”

“Walz showed us over and over again that he does not think Minnesotans are smart enough to make the best decision for themselves and their families, so he made the decisions for us unilaterally without input or oversight from the Legislature,” Carnahan added.

The executive council on Friday also agreed to extend Walz’s emergency powers for another 30 days.

Source: CBS Minnesota

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