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Republicans pledge to lift COVID restrictions if elected

By Tim Pugmire, Minnesota Public Radio News

Republicans in the Minnesota House and Senate are pledging to lift COVID-19 restrictions on businesses, churches and schools if they’re put in charge next year.

With just over two weeks before Election Day, Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-East Gull Lake, and House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt, R-Zimmerman, outlined Monday what they call their “Contract To Open Minnesota.”

Gazelka said he wants schools fully opened across the state, including sports and other extracurricular activities.

“We now trust Minnesotans to look at the data, look at the science, follow the CDC guidelines and live their lives in all of these different areas,” Gazelka said. “So, that’s why we have this commitment.”

Under the contract, church leaders would be allowed to decide how to conduct services. Local communities would be allowed to decide how best to open restaurants and other businesses.

All 201 legislative seats are on the ballot this year. Winning the majority in the House and Senate would allow Republicans to take on DFL Gov. Tim Walz and end the peacetime emergency he first declared back in March to fight COVID-19.

“Democrats unfortunately want just one person, they want Governor Walz to make all of the decisions,” Daudt said.

Democrats who have fought off Republican efforts to scrap the emergency were quick to respond.

Sen. Matt Klein, DFL-Mendota Heights, who is also a medical doctor, took to Twitter to criticize the GOP message.

“It’s terrible advice. It’s anti-science, and it’s an insult to everyone who has experienced a loss this year,” Klein said.

Minnesota DFL Party Chair Ken Martin said the pledge is reckless.

“Make no mistake, the Minnesota Republican Party’s plan to entirely ignore COVID-19 is going to get people killed,” Martin said.