New COVID-19 health guidelines for the Minnesota State Fair just dropped.
Those hoping for proof of vaccination requirements or mask mandates won’t find a lot to like. But if you’re into terms like “urge” and even “strongly urge,” Wednesday’s update should offer comfort.
“The current health situation is not an ideal backdrop for the Great Minnesota Get-Together tradition,” the statement admits. “We understand that by urging rather than requiring people to follow current guidance, many of our usual fair fans will not be comfortable attending.”
Implementing an indoor mask mandate would seem like an easy olive branch to the concerned-about-the-surging-Delta-variant crowd, but that’s not the case other than inside dedicated medical spaces and trolleys.
“To do a mandate you need to effectively enforce it, and I think that’s why you don’t see anybody—other than classrooms and government agencies—doing them,” State Fair GM Jerry Hammer tells us. “It would take hundreds of enforcement people, and we’re having enough of a challenge to find people for the fun jobs.”
There will be no cap on attendance, the fair announced, though a soon-to-come website called the “Gopher Gauge” will let you track numbers on the sweaty throngs of humanity in real-time. The last Minnesota State Fair in 2019 drew a record 2,126,551 fairgoers; there was no fair in 2020 because, uh, COVID was really bad then. The fair is asking (which we believe is two rungs below “urging”) folks to consider visiting during non-peak times (i.e., weekdays).
Three weeks ago, before the current spike in COVID cases, Hammer was feeling more optimistic.
“Once you head down a road, once you make a commitment, you’re committed,” he says.
Locally, First Avenue is requiring concertgoers to provide proof of vaccination or negative COVID test results. Nationally, mega-fest Lollapalooza did the same (with surprisingly great results), and just yesterday the Las Vegas Raiders announced you’ll need vax proof or you’ll need a shot at the entry gate.
These things matter because… it’s fucking grim out there, folks! Returning to normal (the needs of capital) took precedence over health (the need to live) immediately in the U.S., and don’t anticipate any reversal of that calculation even as the Delta variant rages. Minnesota Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm confirmed the obvious on Tuesday: Our state has entered a fourth COVID wave. Yesterday 3,054 new cases were reported, with the positivity rate (5.21%) creeping over that 5% mark that worries experts and just-launched Twin Cities news/culture websites alike.
“We acknowledge that no event can be completely risk-free,” fair organizers acknowledge. “And we’re counting on you to do your part to help us present as safe an event as we can.”