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WCCO Radio won't broadcast from Minnesota State Fair over COVID-19 safety concerns

The station said Thursday it is pulling out of the fair, noting staff health and safety come first.

WCCO Radio, a staple of the Minnesota State Fair, will not broadcast from the beloved event this year over concerns about COVID-19 and health protocols.

The decision, announced Thursday by station management, cites the State Fair's COVID guidance, in which organizers are urging — but not requiring — attendees to wear face coverings in certain situations. Nor will the fair require proof of vaccination or proof of a negative test before entry.

While acknowledging the fair has its reasons for these decisions, WCCO Radio said it had hoped for additional mitigation measures that would allow for the station's staff to return to the fairgrounds.

"The Fair chose the ‘honor system’ and for our decision-makers, it is not enough to feel comfortable," WCCO Radio's statement reads.

Related: State Fair could be COVID 'super-spreader event' without mask mandate, lawmakers argue

The State Fair, in explaining its decision Wednesday, said policing a mask mandate would simply be too challenging at such a large event, particularly with the mix of indoor and outdoor spaces, as well as the continuous food and drink consumption.

Organizers instead appealed to Minnesotans' good nature, asking attendees to comply with the event's masking recommendations "not because it’s mandated, but because it’s the right thing to do."

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That wasn't enough for WCCO Radio management, which acknowledged it "struggled" with the decision because it's so important to connect, face-to-face, with listeners and supporters.

"However, we can’t in good conscience put any of our staff in a position to be exposed to someone who either knowingly or unknowingly has COVID — or cause anyone on our staff to be an unwitting carrier for someone back home who might be immune-compromised," the announcement reads. "For our work family, we take this very seriously. Their health and well-being should always come first."

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