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End of mask mandate in MN has some celebrating, while others remain cautious

Businesses can still implement their own mandates, and must follow local government policies.

MINNEAPOLIS — After 13 months of closure, O’Donovan’s Irish Pub in downtown Minneapolis has recently enjoyed a resurgence that will likely carry through the summer.

And now that Gov. Tim Walz announced the end of the statewide mask mandate, owner Dermot Cowley feels even more optimistic about consumer confidence.

“It’s great, great news,” Cowley said. “There’s a kind of feeling like, ‘OK, we’ve think we’ve made it through the worst of it.’ And we’re still here.”

Restaurants and other businesses still must follow mask policies from their local municipalities, and they can keep mandates in place themselves if they’d like.

Cowley, however, expects most cities will follow the state’s lead in the coming days.  

“There’s always going to be a few people who want to maybe pause and wear their mask, which is totally fine,” he said. “But, for most of us – and certainly my feeling – is let’s get rid of these masks as quickly as we can.”

RELATED: CDC: Fully vaccinated people can largely ditch masks indoors

Other people told KARE 11 they’re going to remain more cautious. Steven Byrd, who lost his job during the pandemic but has since returned to the restaurant industry, said he’s pleased with the state’s progress on COVID-19, but might still play it safe with his mask.

“Honestly, tell you the truth, I think I still might wear mine,” Byrd said. “My biggest thing is, I don’t want there to be another spike in COVID cases. But, we have to get back to normal, so I guess we’ll find out what happens. But, all in all, it’s going to be good.”

Even businesses are handling things differently. In response to new guidelines, Target said it won’t end its own mask mandate.

A spokesperson sent KARE 11 a statement, saying: “Target will continue to require all of our coronavirus safety measures in all stores, including masks and social distancing, while we review today’s guidance from the CDC and re-evaluate the guidance we offer our team and guests.”

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said late Thursday that the mandate will remain in effect throughout the city, but acknowledged that the end is in sight.

“The Minneapolis indoor mask requirement will stay in place while we review the data, consult our health experts, and analyze the unique circumstances and vaccination rates for our communities across our city,” said Frey in a statement. “After such review we can reasonably project a timeline for lifting the requirement. That projection and final decision will follow the same health-based philosophy as when we first instituted the mask requirement a year ago. Minneapolis is nearing the end of this long journey, and our city is coming alive again - so we take this precaution to continue that consistent march in the right direction. There is good reason for hope in the Twin Cities.”

St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter followed suit, saying in a Facebook post that he's still working with public health officials about when he's going to lift the mandate.

People should still pay attention to the signage on private businesses and public buildings on whether or not you need to wear a mask before entering.  

RELATED: Bars and restaurants resume normal operating hours across Minnesota for the first time in over a year