Gov. Tim Walz gave the most promising sign yet that the 2021 Minnesota State Fair will return relatively unchanged in 2021.
Speaking Friday afternoon, Walz said that the fair – which was canceled in 2020 due to the ongoing pandemic and with no vaccinations yet available – should be able to go ahead.
"Everything looks to me on the horizon – and where the vaccine is going and the way that the virus is responding – that should be pretty close to a normal event.”
Minnesota is on its way down from another peak of the virus as the more contagious U.K. variant made its presence felt, but with vaccination take-up rising, the peak didn't get close to the state's worst period with the virus, seen during November and December.
At this stage it's not clear what "pretty close" to a normal event will mean.
The CDC guidance was changed this week to say that vaccinated people don't need to wear masks outdoors, except in large crowds such as for a "live performance, parade, or sports event." Meanwhile unvaccinated people should still wear masks when attending even small outdoor gathering if there's a mix of vaccinated and unvaccinated people there.
Studies have found however that there remains extremely low risk of transmission of COVID-19 outdoors, with people less likely to be in close contact for extended periods of time, and with the virus not traveling through droplets and the air nearly as effectively as it can indoors.
The State Fair does however have numerous indoor elements, including the animal barns, arts and crafts buildings, and food halls, so it remains to be seen whether there will be requirements for entering those buildings.