Republican Majority Leader Paul Gazelka says it’s time to drop Governor Tim Walz’s mask mandate, and told fellow lawmakers next week the Senate will lead:

“We are gonna allow everybody to be back on the Senate floor in your normal seat, if you want to.  So we’re not gonna require it, but if you want to you may, and masks will be optional.”

Senate Democratic Minority Leader Susan Kent says she’s “very disappointed that… Gazelka decided to prematurely lift the safety protocols on the Senate floor before the new guidelines go into effect for all Minnesotans.”  Kent says, “The Senate should lead by example for the rest of the state around workplace safety, not create exceptions for ourselves.”  She adds many D-F-L and non-partisan staff and members are not yet fully vaccinated, and the policy change shows “real disregard” for others who work in the Minnesota Senate.

Gazelka’s new mask policy for the Senate is contrary to the governor’s mandate, which remains in place until 70 percent of Minnesotans age 16 and older receive at least one dose of COVID vaccine — but regardless the mask mandate ends July 1st.

Gazelka says the statewide mask mandate should end immediately — not remain possibly as long as July 1st:

“Compliance to masking has dropped in Minnesota.  In my area it’s dropped significantly, and I know why:  Many people are getting vaccinated.  Those that want it are getting vaccinated and they’re breathing a sigh of relief.”