Minneapolis and St. Paul lift failed vaccine-or-test mandates for restaurants and bars

On Jan. 13, Mayors Melvin Carter of St. Paul and Jacob Frey of Minneapolis announced that, to fight the spread of COVID-19, as of Jan. 19, patrons at restaurants, bars, and other places that serve food and drinks in the two cities would need to either show proof of vaccination or a negative test taken within 72 hours.

When the measures came into effect, Fox 9 reported:

St. Paul’s mandate is set to expire after 40 days, unless the mayor extends it.

It’s unclear when the mandate will end in Minneapolis, but Mayor Frey said the city will continue to monitor cases and announce updates when needed.

Today, less than 40 days after taking effect, the Star Tribune reports:

Twin Cities Mayors Melvin Carter and Jacob Frey jointly rescinded their vaccine-or-test emergency regulations for restaurants, bars and entertainment venues, effective immediately, as COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations rapidly decline.

But, as I noted on Monday, data strongly suggests that these mandates have had nothing at all to do with this rapid decline in COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations:

As MPR News’ David Montgomery reported last week, COVID-19 cases in Hennepin and Ramsey counties are falling quite steeply. But, crucially, they started falling on Jan. 8, 11 days before the new vaccine and testing regime began in the Twin Cities.

True, we see a steeper fall in cases in Hennepin and Ramsey counties than we do elsewhere, but, again, we see that steeper fall before the new measures kicked in. We also see peaks in cases and subsequent declines in Southeast Minnesota, Metro suburbs, and East Central Minnesota, all without new measures being put in place.

These policies have been all cost and no benefit, hammering bars and restaurants in the two cities for no medical payoff. It is good to see them being pulled early, but they should not have been imposed in the first place.