MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Minnesota Governor Tim Walz says he plans significant rollbacks of COVID-19 restrictions on gatherings, following an update by state health officials showing that 70% of the state's senior citizens have now been vaccinated.

Walz says the changes will probably be ``our biggest turn'' because the state is ``at a point where we have not been since this thing started.''

Masking and social distancing will continue to remain in effect, however, some of the measures include:

- Social gathers of 50 people outdoors or 15 people indoors, without household limits.
- Bars and restaurants can allow for 75% occupancy with bar seating increasing to parties of 4.
- Religious services remove occupancy limit, but social distancing and masking required
- Seated and non-seated outdoor venues can have up to 10,000 people
- Seated indoor venues can have up to 3,000 people

Walz plans to further detail his plans during a Friday morning press briefing.

Walz's announcement also came on a day when the Minnesota Department of Health confirmed the state's first known case of a coronavirus variant that was originally identified in South Africa.

Unless otherwise noted, the adjustments are effective at noon on Monday.

Walz cited declining COVID-19 cases and increased vaccinations statewide for the decision. Nearly 1.2 million Minnesotans and more than 70% of people 65 and older have been given at least one coronavirus shot.

 

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