Walz to end Minnesota’s mask mandate following CDC announcement

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (KVRR) – Minnesota Governor Tim Walz will sign an order Friday morning ending the state’s mask mandate to follow Centers For Disease Control and Prevention guidance on face coverings.

Minnesotans who aren’t fully vaccinated are strongly recommended to wear face coverings indoors.

Businesses and cities can still make their own mask mandates. However, masks are still required for schools and child care settings.

Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcom, said she had “mixed feelings” about the new step. She expressed concern that so many people are not yet vaccinated in Minnesota. So far 61% of Minnesotans have received at least one dose.

Walz says it would have been “untenable” to keep a mask mandate in place for unvaccinated people because it would have created a vaccine passport situation.

“This great day is possible because vaccines have proven to be effective,” said Governor Walz. “Once you are fully vaccinated you are protected. You can confidently return to the people you love and things that you miss – all without a mask.  The message is clear — get vaccinated and let’s put the pandemic behind us once and for all.”

The CDC announced masks are no longer required for people who are fully vaccinated. Minnesotans are encouraged to follow CDC guidance and wear masks in hospitals and clinics and on public transportation.

“This is an important day for Minnesota and the country,” Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said. “With millions of doses administered, we are seeing that vaccines work and are effective. But you need to roll up your sleeves and get the shots to get the protection. Minnesotans who aren’t protected should continue to wear a mask and stay safe.”

While Walz will be ending the mask mandate, he said he will not be ending his peacetime emergency powers, which will keep eviction moratorium in place.

Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, the state’s top Republican, said Walz should immediately end his coronavirus emergency powers that he has held for 14 months.

“This (CDC announcement) is really, really good news so it begs the question, why do we need any emergency powers anymore in Minnesota?” Gazelka, R-East Gull Lake, told reporters. “So it’s time for them to go. It’s time for the things that were put in place to go.”

As Gazelka spoke, a handful of Democratic senators threw their masks in the air inside the Senate chamber to celebrate the CDC’s decision.

Categories: Coronavirus, Coronavirus-MN, Health, Local News, Minnesota News