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Minnesota music venues and festivals cheer Gov. Walz’s looser restrictions

For the music festivals that were already banking on it, the rollback on capacity limits and mask mandates announced by COVID-19 Gov. Tim Walz on Thursday means their events can go on as planned.

For music venues and promoters of smaller concerts, it means it’s time to start planning.

The new state rules will remove the 10,000-person capacity audience limits for large outdoor events such as Twins games and summer music fests starting Friday. On May 28, indoor venues such as clubs, bars and restaurants will also be free to operate at full capacity, and without any mandatory early closing times.

And if at least 70% of Minnesota’s population is vaccinated by July 1, all mask mandates will be eliminated, too.

This is the news that the remaining music festivals were banking on. Organizers of We Fest in Detroit Lakes — usually Minnesota’s biggest annual music festival — announced their Aug. 5-7 headliners Blake Shelton, Dierks Bentley and Florida Georgia Line back in January with the hope that audience-size limits for outdoor events would be scaled back by summer. The state’s prior capacity limit of 10,000 people would have been “a nonstarter” and likely led to a cancellation, they said.

“We’re feeling hopeful about moving forward and getting our staff and crew of 1,000-plus back to work,” said Matt Mithun, owner of We Fest’s host facility Soo Pass Ranch and co-organizer with Live Nation.

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