Walz will give a live statewide speech at 12 p.m. followed by a press conference at 1 p.m. FOX 9 will broadcast the governor’s speech and press conference live on air and streamed at fox9.com/live.
The first phase of Walz’s plan removes limits for outdoor events and ends the bar and restaurant curfew from Friday. Remaining capacity and distance limits will end on May 28. The plan includes an incentive: The mask mandate would be removed by July 1 if the state achieved a 70% vaccination rate sooner.
Walz is reducing but not ending his emergency powers, a move he deems necessary to maintain the statewide moratorium on evictions and to speed up the vaccination process, but which Republican lawmakers oppose .
“As the cases recede more and more people get vaccinated every day, and vaccines are readily available to anyone who wants them, we can now confidently and safely resume our path to normal, ”the governor said in an emailed statement.
The timing and changes to emergency powers are part of an executive order Walz will issue later Thursday, in time for a vote of the five members of the Minnesota Executive Council at 4:45 p.m.
Among the changes announced Thursday by Walz:
- May 7: Removed limits for outdoor dining, events and meetings. Masks will still be needed in large outdoor rooms with more than 500 people. Eliminate the 11pm curfew on bars and restaurants.
- May 28: All remaining abilities and social distancing limits will end, including for indoor events. Masks will still be needed indoors and for outdoor events of more than 500 people.
- By July 1: The mask’s statewide mandate will end. Term will end once 70% of Minnesotans aged 16 and over receive at least one dose of vaccine
As of Wednesday, 59% of adults in Minnesota had been vaccinated. At the current rate of vaccination, which has slowed considerably over the past three weeks, the state is expected to hit the 70% mark in early June.
Leading legislative Republicans criticized Walz’s decision to retain his emergency powers.
“The data clearly shows that we have made incredible progress in reducing the number of cases and getting the Minnesotans vaccinated, but the governor insists on retaining the powers he doesn’t need – it’s time to open up and put end to emergency powers, ”said Kurt, GOP leader Daudt, R-Crown, said in an email.
Earlier this week, Walz telegraphed his plan to tie restrictions to a 70% vaccination rate.
“It changes the whole math,” Walz told reporters on Tuesday. “At that point, like I said, the Minnesotans should start assuming they’re going to have a very normal summer. “
Thousands of business owners and their employees are eagerly awaiting the governor’s decision. Thousands of Minnesota businesses – including bars, restaurants and gyms – have been forced to shut down or limit operations for more than a year.
Tony Chesak, executive director of the Minnesota Licensed Beverage Association, which represents the bar industry, said Wednesday he was in the dark about Walz’s decision-making. An industry group formed to brief the governor has not met for several weeks, he said.
“For the first time in a long time, we don’t know either. We would have a warning here and there as to what is to come. But this time it’s different for us, ”said Chesak. ” We are ready. We have been ready for a long time. We have proven it. We have shown it. “