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Walz to announce rollback of Minnesota’s COVID restrictions

Plus: state Senate passes tax relief for businesses and unemployed workers who received pandemic aid; Target significantly reducing downtown Minneapolis footprint; Met Council lays out alternative routes for Bottineau Line; and more.

Gov. Tim Walz
Gov. Tim Walz
Graeme Jennings/Pool via REUTERS

At MPR Tim Pugmire reports, “Gov. Tim Walz on Friday will announce a major pullback on Minnesota’s remaining COVID-19 restrictions. … The federal vaccine shipment to Minnesota came in at around 130,000 doses this week and the feds are projecting they’ll deliver somewhere around 300,000 doses in the last week of March, Gov. Tim Walz said Thursday. Minnesota ranks 16th among states in doses administered per 100,000 people, according to data collected by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”

The Star Tribune’s Briana Bierschbach says, “The Minnesota Senate is moving quickly on state tax relief for some businesses and unemployed workers who received federal pandemic aid, arguing lawmakers must act now as people are filling out their 2020 tax returns. A proposal that passed on a bipartisan 55-12 vote on Thursday would conform state and federal tax code for the tens of thousands of state businesses that received forgivable Paycheck Protection Program loans, which were used to help cover employee salaries even as some businesses were shuttered due to the pandemic.”

For FOX 9, Karen Scullin says, “As day four of the Derek Chauvin trial was underway in Minneapolis, the sights around George Floyd Square were peaceful. … With a handful of people running the area, many have called it an autonomous zone, meaning the people nor the City of Minneapolis do not control it. The mayor, however, refuses to call it that. ‘That intersection has received a slew of city services ranging from snow clearance to street maintenance and EMS and 911 responses,’ said Mayor Frey. The city has said the barriers will come down after the Derek Chauvin trial, so possibly in six weeks or so. But that may not be an easy transition and with traffic increasing recently, as the trial draws more news crews and people from out of town during the trial, the unpredictability is unsettling.”

For WCCO-TV, Caroline Cummings says, “Target announced on Thursday that the company is downsizing its Minneapolis office space by moving out of City Center, a move that decreases its downtown footprint by one-third. In an email to corporate employees, Target executives said its post-pandemic ‘Flex for Your Day’ policy—a hybrid model that will allow both remote and on-site work—requires less office space, driving the decision to stop its lease of nearly one million square feet at City Center. The 3,500 employees who worked at that location will be relocated to another Minneapolis location or Brooklyn Park.”

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Another FOX 9 story, this by Allie Johnson says, “The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board has released two proposed concepts for the new pavilion site at Bde Maka Ska. The former pavilion was demolished in May 2019 after it was damaged in a fire.  Both concepts would divide the pavilion into two buildings, replacing the one building lost to the fire. In both concepts, the buildings would have food service areas, with the northern building representing the main restaurant space and the southern building including space for additional food service as well as the restrooms.”

MPR’s Tim Nelson writes: “The Metropolitan Council is laying out a handful of alternatives for the so-called Bottineau Line, after negotiations to run the light rail line on freight train right-of-way failed last year. The council says the northern part of the line in Brooklyn Park will remain the same, and the middle section of the 13-mile Blue Line Extension could move to Bottineau Boulevard. But planners are weighing more than a half dozen options for the line in north Minneapolis, most of them including West Broadway, one of the neighborhood’s landmark main streets.”

Says Tom Olsen for the Duluth News Tribune, “A judge has dismissed a felony robbery charge against a Duluth firefighter accused of physically attacking a woman along a western Duluth trail last summer. Conrad John Sunde IV, 49, still faces a felony count of third-degree assault in the July 10 incident on the Duluth Traverse Trail System. But this week’s decision significantly reduces the severity of his potential consequences, if convicted. Sunde, of Proctor, is accused of striking 65-year-old Mary Modec with his bike, shoving her face into the ground and throwing her phone into the woods during an altercation involving the off-duty firefighter’s unleashed dogs.”

Also in the Star Tribune, this from Alicia Eler, “It’s not every day that a camera-equipped drone swoops into Minneapolis’ historic Bryant-Lake Bowl, sneaking into the nooks and crannies of the bowling alley machines and darting gracefully around — and through the legs of — masked bowlers. Millions of people have viewed the 1 ½-minute video by 25-year-old cinematographer Jay Christensen, produced by Minneapolis-based Rally Studios and directed by Anthony Jaska. ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ filmmaker James Gunn called the single-shot clip, which feels like a roller-coaster ride, ‘stupendous.’ He tweeted it to his 800,000-plus followers, saying he wanted the filmmakers ‘to come with us to London later this year when we shoot Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.’”