Staff editorial: Time to wind down restrictions

Rising vaccine rates, declining COVID-19 cases justify reopening of state

Gov. Walz announced the end of most pandemic restrictions by May 28 — including the mask mandate by July 1. Considering the continuous decline in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths, the Echo Editorial Board believes this is the right decision. 

The pandemic has gone on for over a year and many are anxious to get back to their pre-COVID-19 lives. With vaccination rates on the rise and the virus in remission, that will soon be possible. 

Despite this, the country is unlikely to reach herd immunity due to new variants and vaccine hesitancy, according to The New York Times, but that should not stop the easing of restrictions. 

First of all, Minnesota could very well reach that point. Nearly 90 percent of individuals in the vast majority of Minnesotan counties plan to be vaccinated which will be beneficial in stopping local spread of the virus. Second, with vaccines more available than ever, we cannot accommodate the ignorant few who refuse inoculation at the cost of our collective freedom. 

That being said, we must do all we can to ensure equitable access to the vaccine and to combat vaccine hesitancy. Those who wonder about the safety of these vaccines should be met where they are at and persuaded to take them. However, those who refuse inoculation for attention or because they feel their knowledge is superior to that of the medical community should be ignored. 

As Minnesota opens up, businesses, schools and other institutions have the right to enforce their own restrictions — including vaccine requirements. Our actions have consequences. Those who choose not to be vaccinated should not expect to partake in our state’s reopening by grifting off the immunity of others. They can and should be barred from theaters, restaurants, stores, malls, schools, airports and a host of other amenities.

In the weeks before restrictions are lifted, Park students should stay patient and vigilant. It’s key that we wear masks, social distance and follow other existing rules even if they will soon end.

Those with time should do what they can to spread access to the vaccine. Post on social media, contact Gabe Kaplan and join SLP [Act]’s effort to help others find vaccine appointments and get your friends and family inoculated.