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COVID rules to ease, power struggle remains

Gov. Tim Walz announced a timetable for the easing and ending of the state’s COVID-19 rules on Thursday. The argument over his ability to make such rules in the first place continues on, however.

Here’s what will happen with the rules: As of noon today (Friday) there will be no more capacity limits for outdoor dining, and other outdoor events and get-togethers. The outdoor mask requirement will end, except for large venues with more than 500 people.

On May 28, the Friday before Memorial Day, seating capacity and distancing limits will end for indoor events and gatherings. Masks will still be required for indoor public places and outdoor events that exceed 500 people.

The third step, lifting of the state’s mask requirements, will take place when 70 percent of MInnesotans have at least one vaccination shot, but no later than July 1. Local businesses and governments will still be able to require masks and other restrictions they deem necessary.

School restrictions will continue until the end of the school year because younger Minnesotans are not yet eligible to be vaccinated.

This should be good news for Minnesotans who have been chafing under the restrictions, right?

Republicans in the state legislature aren’t happy, however. The changes are coming too slowly, they say. They think the emergency is over, and there’s no need for them. The only reason Gov. Walz is continuing with any restrictions is that he’s just power hungry. This isn’t about health restrictions for them, it’s about who gets to tell people what to do. Republicans don’t like the governor having emergency powers that they don’t have.

We believe the governor has made decisions since the beginning of this emergency that are based on a desire to save lives and slow the spread of this disease. A slow and careful lifting of restrictions will help protect people.

When the emergency is truly over, when the vast majority of people are vaccinated and the rate of new cases drops, the legislature and governor should sit down and figure out what changes might be needed in the state’s emergency powers authority. But let’s wait until the emergency is over first.

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