Minnesota Governor Tim Walz announced Friday that beginning next week there will be a significant loosening ofrestrictions. Bars and restaurants will be able to operate at 75% capacity and gyms at 50% capacity, and there will be no limit for salons and barbershops.
Also beginning on Monday, March 15:
- Social gatherings can have up to 50 people outdoors or 15 people indoors.
- Pod size for youth sports can increase to 50 for outdoor activities.
- Occupancy limits will be removed for religious services, but social distancing is required.
Bar seating will be able to increase to parties of four and in addition to increased capacity inside gyms, outdoor classes can increase to 50 people.
Entertainment venues can increase allowable occupancy to 50%, up from 25%, for both indoors and outdoors, with a limit of 250, according to the governor's office.
Rules will also change for large venues as of April 1. Seated outdoor venues will be allowed to add an additional 25% of their capacity over 500, with a 10,000-person limit, while non-seated outdoor venues can add an additional 15% of their capacity over 500, with a 10,000-person limit.
Seated indoor venues can add an additional 15% of their capacity over 500, with a 3,000-person limit, and non-seated indoor venues can add an additional 10% of their capacity over 500, with a 1,500-person limit.
The Minnesota Twins are set to play their season opener on April 8, and with the new guidelines, 10,000 fans will be allowed to attend.
In a recent statement, the team says it's focused on reinforcing health and safety measures as they review the new COVID-19 protocols, CBS Minnesota reports.
"Our singular focus remains on the health, safety and well-being of every person that enters Target Field; to that end, we are currently reviewing the new guidance to ensure our comprehensive re-opening plan adheres to all MDH and Minneapolis Health Department directives. We will announce next steps, including our full ballpark protocols and ticket plans, in the very near future," said team officials.
The state has made extraordinary progress in vaccinations in the past month, Walz said.
"Nearly 1.2 million Minnesotans have the shot, and almost 650,000 are fully vaccinated. We beat our goal by weeks and got more than 70% of seniors vaccinated," Walz said Thursday. "More Minnesotans are now eligible for the vaccine and we are getting more than 40,000 shots into arms each day."
He said Minnesotans should continue to take steps to protect the progress made, "but the data shows that we are beating COVID-19."
"The sun is shining brighter," he said Friday in a statement.
Officials, however, are urging caution over new COVID-19 variants. State health officials said Thursday that Minnesota detected its first case of the B.1.351 variant first discovered in South Africa.
Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said "it's important to not let our guard down until we've finished the job."
"COVID-19 is still circulating in our communities, and we're seeing the new variants more frequently. We need to keep up the prevention measures like masking, social distancing, staying home when sick, and getting tested when appropriate. Those basic tools - along with the safe and effective vaccines - will help us end this pandemic and get to those brighter days ahead."