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Report: Walz could halt reopenings again if COVID-19 spikes

Statewide restrictions are due to ease up on Monday.
Governor Tim Walz

Though the state's COVID-19 restrictions are officially loosening up next week, officials are reminding Minnesotans that this is not the end of the pandemic. 

Gov. Tim Walz (D) has announced that he's easing some coronavirus measures — allowing bars and restaurants to start offering indoor service again, with some limits 

The reopenings will also affect gyms, public events, youth sports and places of worship. (You can read more about what will and won't be allowed right here.)

But on Friday, Walz told reporters it's possible they could be rescinded again if there's another surge in virus cases, per FOX 9 reporter Theo Keith:

The governor's emergency powers, under which he has implemented many of the pandemic restrictions, have been a matter of controversy among both business owners and state lawmakers.

This week, he reached out to the legislature with a pathway to "wind-down" the peacetime emergency that has given him such powers. It includes passing into law the "core provisions of the emergency response that have been keeping Minnesotans safe." 

Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-East Gull Lake, has said that removing the governor's emergency powers is among the priorities for the Senate GOP Caucus this year.

“I’m looking forward to a day where emergency powers are lifted and the governor feels like we can get there,” Gazelka said before the start of the session, according to MinnPost. “I’m hoping that it’s sooner rather than later.”

In an opinion piece published Thursday in the Pioneer Press, Gazelka wrote Walz should end his emergency powers and rescind all his executive orders "after vaccinating all priority populations in Phase 1," saying the governor "should agree the emergency is over when we are vaccinating our healthy populations ..."

The latest COVID update from the Minnesota Department of Health reported 48 deaths and more than 2,300 new cases, though the number of COVID patients in intensive care in Minnesota is the lowest its been since mid-October. 

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