The Minnesota State Fair will not implement a mask mandate for the 2021 get-together, but organizers are "urging" attendees to wear a face covering in many situation.
Describing a mandate as "extremely difficult for our organization to enforce," the fair Wednesday morning appealed to Minnesotans' moral compass, repeatedly calling adherence to the guidelines "the right thing."
It will also not require attendees to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test, despite a growing number of large events across the country imposing such rules.
"We understand that by urging rather than requiring people to follow current guidance, many of our usual fair fans will not be comfortable attending," the State Fair explains on its updated health page. "We ask that those who attend do so because they are willing to follow our health guidance — not because it’s mandated, but because it’s the right thing to do."
So what does the new health guidance entail?
No proof of vaccination or a negative test
The fair does not plan to require attendees to show proof of vaccination or proof of a negative test. The organization is strongly encouraging those who are still unvaccinated "to reconsider a vaccine, both for your safety and the safety of others."
Face masks guidance
The State Fair says it will "strongly urge" people who are over the age of 2 and medically able to wear a face covering to do so in three specific circumstances:
- Indoors, whether you're vaccinated and unvaccinated
- Outdoors in crowded settings where you can't socially distance, especially if you are not vaccinated
- At independent vendor booths where they require everyone to wear a mask
There are a few spots where face masks will be mandated however: The Care & Assistance and First Aid buildings, regardless of vaccination status; the North End Event Center to donate blood or get a vaccine, regardless of vaccination status; on a trolley ride if you’re not vaccinated; and if you are taking a bus to the fair, regardless of vaccination status.
Fairgoers are being asked to "please spread out when you can and wear a mask when you can’t." The fair continued: "The State Fairgrounds are huge, and most activities are outdoors where social distancing is much easier. We’ve created more space in some high-traffic areas and added hundreds of benches and tables. There’s also more open space in exhibit buildings this year with fewer livestock and commercial exhibits. If one area of the fair is busy, explore new places."
Earlier this month, the State Fair said it was considering a number of COVID-related prevention measures. At the time, an indoor mask mandate appeared likely, though organizers, as of Aug. 18, citing in part the logistics of being "largely an outdoor event with plenty of eating and drinking."
The State Fair also points to state and federal health guidelines related to COVID-19, saying people should "make an informed decision about attending the fair" based on their own health situation. And of course, people should regularly wash their hands, stay home of they feel at all sick or have bene in contact with someone who has COVID-19,
"We acknowledge that no event can be completely risk-free, and we’re counting on you to do your part to help us present as safe an event as we can by following this health guidance," the fair's health page says, which later concludes: "Most of all, respect your fellow fair fans. Follow the Golden Rule – we’re all in this together."