The Minnesota State Fair is in jeopardy of becoming the latest Minnesota tradition to fall to the coronavirus, with Gov. Tim Walz on Thursday expressing doubt that the world be close enough to normal by mid-August to make the fair a safe place to go.
"This pains me, pains me, pains me," said Walz. "I wouldn't make a definitive call, but I don't want to give any false hope on this. I think it'll be very difficult to see a State Fair operating. I don't know how you social distance in there."
The 2020 Great Minnesota Get-Together is scheduled to take place Aug. 27 through Labor Day, Sept. 7. Earlier Thursday, State Fair General Manager Jerry Hammer said they will "do the right thing for Minnesota, our nation and our world."
In any case, it looks like it'll be all-or-nothing for the 2020 event, with the Hammer saying fair officials are looking at ways it can operate safely, but it is not considering alternate fair dates, a change in duration, or "significant restrictions."
Last year's fair drew in a record 2,126,551 visitors, meaning elbow-to-elbow crowds are common for the 12 days of food and fun.
"That's the charm of the Minnesota State Fair. Unfortunately, that is the worst thing for COVID1-9 control," Walz said. "I just think it's going to be a hard lift, but we'll hope."
Walz unveiled new guidelines for getting Minnesotans back to work and where they can attend large social gatherings, but it is those large gatherings, like the fair, shopping at malls and attending sporting events, that fall on the right side of a dial, meaning it's going to take longer to safely return to those places until treatments or a vaccine is available to fight COVID-19.