The State of Minnesota moved to Phase III of its COVID-19 Stay Safe MN plan in mid-June. That plan is broken down by “Setting”, as in social or business, etc., and the Grand Lodge sought clarification from the State on which setting was the best fit for Masonic Lodges. We were given a few options from which to choose, and our COVID Committee recommended selecting “Places of Worship, religious services, weddings, and funerals”. While I naturally hesitate to equate Freemasonry with religion, operationally our Lodges are quite similar to places of worship (though for the sake of emphasis I will qualify without dogma, sacrament, or promised paths to salvation).
With the previous information in mind, I hereby authorize the following updates to the May 28th, 2020 “Returning to In-Person Masonry” edict:
(1) Constituent Lodges shall be considered “Places of Worship, religious services, weddings, and funerals” for the purpose of determining meeting capacity. Currently, the capacity is set at 50%, though that percentage and all other COVID restrictions and guidance are subject to change.
(2) Lodges wishing to open shall do so under the terms and conditions of the attached “Grand Lodge of Minnesota – COVID-19 Preparedness Plan” dated July 1st, 2020. Among the changes from May’s document, including naming it our Preparedness Plan for the purpose of Stay Safe MN compliance, its most substantive update is a provision for balloting on petitions for the Degrees of Freemasonry.
While this move to 50% capacity will allow most of us to meet in Lodge once again, it cannot be as before the pandemic. Social distancing will be maintained, masks will be worn, and cleaning will continue. Please make liberal use of the Covid-19 Meeting Compliance checklist for quick reference. [Note: if your local Fire Marshal has not calculated maximum capacity for your Lodge spaces, a resource is linked for that purpose on the bottom of the checklist.]
As I have done previously, I thank both our COVID Committee and the Masons of Minnesota for working so hard to keep Masonry, and our dear Masonic family, as safe as we’re able. Please contact your District Representatives should you have specific questions in this pandemic environment, and I pray for your continued health and safety as we wade through this viral time together.