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St. Paul Winter Carnival organizers have a message for anyone planning to attend: Please be vaccinated against COVID.

The Saint Paul Festival and Heritage Foundation announced new COVID guidelines Sunday for the Jan. 28-Feb. 6 winter celebration. While the foundation is not mandating vaccinations for its events, it is urging everyone taking part to take precautions.

"We strongly encourage any individual participating at the Saint Paul Winter Carnival be fully vaccinated or take a COVID test within 72 hours of participating," the Winter Carnival website says.

If you have existing health issues, are immunocompromised or are simply worried about contracting COVID, "consider avoiding these activities and events this year," the foundation continued, describing the wildfire spread of omicron over the past eight weeks.

Anyone planning to stop at one of the indoor venues, particularly for a quick bite or something to drink, will have to follow the city's emergency regulations.

In licenses businesses, a face mask is required when social distancing can't be maintained. That rule went into effect on Jan. 6.

And starting Wednesday, any licensed business that serves food or drink indoors will be required to make patrons show proof of COVID vaccination, or proof of a recent negative test. That same policy kicks in on Wednesday, Jan. 26 for any licensed businesses involved in a ticketed event.

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The foundation also issued a general reminder to, in essence, not be a jerk about any of the rules.

"Regardless of your viewpoint on vaccinations, masks, or any other pandemic-related guidance or mandates, please be respectful of those around you," the new guidelines say. "Some people may not be comfortable with hugs, handshakes, or other close contacts. When in doubt, ask before acting."

The Winter Carnival, now in its 136th year, begins Friday, Jan. 28. Most events happen in and around Rice Park in downtown St. Paul, though there are others at the State Fairgrounds and throughout the city. 

Many activities (including most at Rice Park and the Vulcan Snow Park) are free, though some events do have an admission cost. You can see the calendar here.

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