Gov. Tim Walz to loosen some pandemic restrictions on businesses and gatherings
Capacity limits will increase for restaurants, gyms and private gatherings.
ST. PAUL — Citing a decline in the Minnesota's COVID-19 hospitalization and test positivity rates, Gov. Tim Walz on Friday, Feb. 12, said he was loosening restrictions on businesses and private gatherings.
Capacity limits put in place due to the coronavirus pandemic will adjust beginning noon Saturday, Feb. 13, the governor's office said.
"Our small businesses have made enormous sacrifices for the health of their employees and communities," Walz said in a statement. "Today, we can make these cautious, common sense adjustments to support them because of the progress we have made controlling the spread of COVID-19 and getting the most at-risk Minnesotans vaccinated."
Walz's announcement comes after several weeks of State Department of Health reports on what appears to be a stable pandemic situation. Minnesota's COVID-19 hospitalization rate stood most recently at 6.8 per 100,000 residents, down from a peak in November of 37.1.
Amid the rollout of the vaccine for the disease, which is caused by the novel coronavirus, Minnesota's percentage of COVID-19 tests coming back positive is 3.9%, according to recent health department data. Positivity rates in excess of 5% are believed to indicate a more severe spread of the disease, 1,058 additional cases of which were reported Friday.
The state health department bases its hospitalization and test positivity rates off of a rolling, seven-day average. The percentage of cases for which a known exposure could not be identified, also based on a rolling, seven-day average, continues to creep up, however, and stood most recently at 41%.
The executive order loosening the restrictions that Walz signed Friday will:
- Increase the "not to exceed" capacity up to 250 patrons, while retaining a maximum limit of 50%. The "not to exceed" capacity for indoor entertainment venues will also increase to 250 but will still be capped at 25%.
- Up the "not to exceed" capacity private events and celebrations to 50, while still maintaining a maximum capacity limit of 25%.
- Reduce the social distancing requirements for gyms and pools to 6 feet. "Not to exceed" capacity limits will increase for both to 250, while maintaining a 25% cap limit.
- Extends the curfew for restaurants until 11 p.m.
In a news release, the governor's office advised caution as more transmissible mutations of COVID-19 have been observed in the state.
Another 19 deaths of COVID-19 were also reported Friday.
More than 800,000 doses of the vaccine have also been distributed. Senior citizens, school teachers, school staff members and child care workers continue to figure among the state's vaccinated population, which until recently consisted almost entirely of nursing home residents and health care workers.
According to the governor's office, 45,610 school and child care workers will have been vaccinated after this week. At a news conference Friday, Walz touted the vaccine and disease testing efforts targeting these groups, saying 85% of kindergarten through eighth grade classrooms have been able to return to some form of in-person learning.
In total, officials reported Friday that 189,902 people have received the requisite two doses, while 617,896 people have received at least one dose.
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- Minnesota Department of Health COVID-19 hotline: 651-201-3920.
- COVID-19 discrimination hotline: 833-454-0148
- Minnesota Department of Health COVID-19 website: Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) website .