by Scott McClallen
Gov. Tim Walz on Thursday announced the end of Minnesota’s statewide mask requirement starting Friday, aligning Minnesota with new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance on face coverings.
“So, those peacetime emergencies are done and the business mitigations are coming to an end. I want to be clear it’s not the end of the pandemic, but it is the end of the pandemic for a lot of vaccinated folks,” he told reporters.
Minnesotans who aren’t fully vaccinated are strongly recommended to wear face coverings indoors.
Private businesses and local municipalities may still enact face covering requirements.
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey enacted a mask mandate. And Minnesota’s Safe Learning Plan, along with the existing face covering guidance for schools and child care settings, remain in effect.
“This great day is possible because vaccines have proven to be effective,” Walz said in a statement. “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 Thursday masks are no longer required indoors or outdoors for fully vaccinated individuals. Minnesotans should follow CDC guidance and wear masks in medical settings and on public transportation, whether or not they are fully vaccinated.
“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.”
Minnesotans are fully vaccinated two weeks after their final vaccine dose – either the second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Minnesotans can find vaccine appointments near them at mn.gov/vaccine.
About 61% of Minnesotans 16 and older have received a first vaccine, while 88% of seniors — those most vulnerable to dying from COVID-19 — have been vaccinated.
The decision might be a gift to the GOP-dominated Senate that’s currently deadlocked with Democrats in trying to pass a budget by May 17 when they adjourn regular session.
Walz and his commissioners were not wearing masks at the press briefing.
Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-East Gull Lake, welcomed the announcement.
“It’s about time Walz lifted the mask mandate,” Gazelka tweeted. “But I’m disappointed it looks like our kids will still be masked in classrooms and when playing sports when they are not a high risk. Give our kids their lives back.”
How Minnesotans Can Get their Shot:
Appointment hotline: 833-431-2053
Mon-Fri, 9 a.m. – 7 p.m. & Sat, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Use the state’s Vaccine Locator Map to find a vaccine provider near you:
Check for vaccine appointments using the Vaccine Finder. You can search for appointments by vaccine type (e.g., Pfizer).
Contact your primary health care provider or a local pharmacy.
Employers may also reach out with information about vaccination opportunities.
Executive Order 21-23 will be effective immediately upon approval by the Minnesota Executive Council, which is scheduled to meet Friday. The Minnesota Executive Council is made up of Governor Walz, Lieutenant Governor Flanagan, Attorney General Keith Ellison, Secretary of State Steve Simon, and State Auditor Julie Blaha.
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Scott McClallen is a staff writer covering Michigan and Minnesota for The Center Square. A graduate of Hillsdale College, his work has appeared on Forbes.com and FEE.org. Previously, he worked as a financial analyst at Pepsi.