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Looking ahead to lifting restrictions

The Republicans in the Minnesota Legislature have been very strident and demanding about lifting the restrictions Gov. Tim Walz has imposed on the state’s businesses to curb the spread of COVID-19. They have tried, month after month since last June, to strip the governor of his emergency powers and force him to bring them in on the decision. Due to the DFL majority in the House, they have failed each time.

This week House Republicans have taken a little different approach. They are looking at the falling number of new cases and the rising vaccination numbers and want to plan ahead for when affected businesses can fully reopen. They are pushing for a phased in reopening plan that would lift business restrictions by May 1. If COVID starts spiking again, the governor would include legislative leaders in making any emergency decisions.

Will this plan actually be enacted? As long as the DFL controls the House, Republicans will have to make some concessions. We doubt the governor will give up the option to respond quickly to sudden changes in the COVID situation. We have said in the past that expecting legislators who take years to act on things the actually DO agree on, like insulin affordability, may not be able to come together to address a health emergency.

But Republicans are right. Business owners do need to reopen as soon as possible, and they need to be able to plan ahead for that reopening. Giving them a reopening date, whether it is May 1 or some other date, would give them the ability to start making those plans.

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