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Legislative Update from Rep. Glenn Gruenhagen

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Dear Neighbors,

On Wednesday, Governor Walz announced that he will extend shutdowns and restrictions of Minnesota businesses into the New Year, including a shutdown of indoor dining at bars and restaurants, and continued restrictions on youth sporting events. Additionally, the Governor will continue to keep hotel pools closed despite there being zero known cases of transmission.

This is extremely disappointing and further illustrates the need to end the peacetime emergency so that the Governor is forced to work with the legislature and hear the concerns of the people that are being harmed by his shutdowns.

Governor Walz is not following the “data” or “science” when he makes the decisions. For instance, according to reporting from the Star Tribune in November, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) attributes 2,766 cases to restaurant or bar customers, representing 0.7% of the 384,164 cases in our state. For comparison, the number of cases affiliated with restaurants/bars is less than the number of deaths at nursing homes or long-term care facilities alone.

Here are additional details on the latest executive order:

  • Social gatherings – Expanded slightly; limited to two households with no more than 10 ppl. Outdoor, no more than three households and 15 people. 
  • Gyms/fitness centers - 25% capacity up to 100 patrons. Expanding physical space to 12 feet. Masks at all times. No group classes until January 4th. Pools closed. Showers closed. Locker rooms can be used as long as 6 ft maintained. 
  • Bars/Restaurants - extending closure for dine-in until January 10. Outdoor dining will be allowed until 10PM, no more than 4 people per table and 6 feet apart.
  • Outdoor entertainment - Allowed to open with limited capacity of up to 25%. 
  • Sports - January 4th youth sports can resume practice, but no games and no date set on when games can resume.
  • Education – In person classes for elementary students may begin on a rolling basis starting January 4th through January 18th. Schools can make decisions locally and education staff will be tested every other week. Families may choose to continue distance learning.

On the education component, Governor Walz is calling this his “Safe Learning Plan” and it will be updated to prioritize and allow the return of elementary students to in-person learning. This will be allowed if schools can follow additional mitigation procedures.

In-person learning for elementary students may begin on January 18th with rolling implementation to full implementation for all elementary grades by February 22nd to March 4th.

Additional mitigation procedures include:

  • On-site COVID-19 testing every other week for all staff beginning January 4th.
  • Face masks and shields must be worn by school staff at all times.
  • If staff-to-student separation of six feet is not an option when possible a clear barrier must be in place between adults and students.
  • Face coverings must be worn when engaging in indoor physical activity.
  • All meals and specialized lessons to be provided in the classroom or outside (weather permitting).
  • Physical education classes may be held outside the classroom and indoors with all staff and students wearing face coverings.
  • For in-person only, three feet of distancing or more is strongly recommended. (Note: this would be a reduction from the six-foot guidelines.)

The staff COVID-19 testing is voluntary, and every other week testing runs so long as funding is available to provide the tests at no charge to staff.

This is a step in the right direction for our youngest students as it is vital that they can return to the classroom.

Staying in Touch

Please be sure to reach out to me if you have any questions. I will do my best to keep you updated as we prepare for the 2021 legislative session, set to begin in early January. I can be reached by phone at 651-296-4229 and rep.glenn.gruenhagen@house.mn

Have a great day,

Glenn

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