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Walz says State Fair should consider COVID-19 measures, or face losing visitors

The State Fair has said an indoor mask mandate could happen, though final decisions are yet to be made.

Gov. Tim Walz has suggested the Minnesota State Fair should consider imposing COVID-19 mitigation measures amid the spread of the delta variant.

The governor, speaking to the media on Tuesday, suggested that the State Fair could face losing visitors if people don't feel safe attending.

It comes in the week after Bring Me The News first reported that State Fair general manager Jerry Hammer said an indoor mask requirement is being considered, as are capacity restrictions, though he has cautioned that no final decisions have been made.

While Minnesota hasn't seen the level of COVID-19 spikes seen in southern states such as Louisiana, Florida, and Texas, there has been growing concern about COVID spread at large events, prompting the likes of Summerfest in Milwaukee and Bonnaroo in Tennessee to require proof of COVID vaccines or a negative COVID test for entry.

It's not known if a vaccine or negative test requirement is being considered by the State Fair, but Walz was of the opinion that some form of measures would be beneficial to the event as a whole.

"What I will say is ... whether you had mitigations on restaurants or not, nobody was going in November (when COVID was peaking in Minnesota), we had no vaccine and people knew they were going to get sick, and I'm afraid the same issue is if people don't feel there's going to be mitigation efforts in place for the State Fair, that's going to pull back some of the attendance," he said.

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He noted that there is still time for Minnesotans to make their State Fair visits even safer by getting vaccinated before going, noting that the best news in recent days has been the rise in vaccinations since the state started offering $100 incentives.

The decision on mitigation measures will ultimately be up to the State Fair board, though it's likely they'll have input from the Walz Administration, with Walz noting that the state is one of the fair's key stakeholders.

But Walz hinted that a vaccine mandate wasn't on the cards for fair visitors – even though he's considering one for the state workers – noting that Minnesota's response to the delta variant "is working about as well as anywhere in the country."

He said they have been "striking that balance of informing people, letting them make their choice, incentivizing them, without getting into a position where folks decide, 'No, I'm going to step back because you're forcing me to do this' type of situation."

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