January 11, 2021
As this message relates to COVID-19, please let me to begin by reiterating what our Grand Lodge’s COVID Committee has been asking us all to remember since March:
Stay home from Lodge if you’re sick.
Maintain your distance, wear your mask, and wash your hands.
Take care, and watch out for one another.
The Governor of Minnesota has begun to relax some of the recent restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic. After a review of those decisions, the Grand Lodge’s COVID Committee has recommended, and I concur, that Minnesota Masonry may return to those previous restrictions in place through much of last fall. They include: presentational Degree work only, 50% maximum capacities in Lodge meetings, and a continuation of our ban on food at Lodge meetings. Details of the changes are included in the updated COVID Preparedness Plan and Meeting Checklist, both of which are attached.
Please allow me to add a few notes:
(1) The sharing of a meal is such an important part of Minnesota Masonry. While this edict update does not lift the prohibition on indoor food in Lodges, in fact based on the Governor’s order outdoor food at Lodges is now also prohibited, as has been said so often our local restaurants need us now more than ever. Because restaurants are again open for in-person dining, on meeting nights I encourage all of us to safely patronize those businesses so critical to our communities.
(2) Custodians, Area Deputies, and District Representatives are busily preparing a schedule of statewide Entered Apprentice and Fellowcraft Degrees to begin in February. It gives me great delight to add that Master Mason Degrees will not be included in that scheduling. Yes, you read the word “delight” correctly. I say it because I have accepted the recommendation of the COVID Committee for a return to Lodge-based Degrees as early as this summer, to include the Third. While future conditions may of course force a change, and our next Grand Master will need to confirm this decision when his term begins in April, it is the Committee’s opinion that vaccination rates will be such that Lodge Degrees will be possible in just a few short months. I encourage all of us to start shaking the rust off our Lectures as we plan for a return to the Degree work this summer.
(3) The COVID Committee has been meeting regularly, and would like you to consider joining them at an upcoming meeting. On Monday, February 8th at 6:30 PM you may log in to the virtual session, and bring with your questions and comments about COVID and the Grand Lodge’s response. I hope you’ll consider Zooming in (the Zoom link can be found in the Seminars area of your Grand View member portal.)
(4) Recent meeting restrictions regarding things like sixty-minute maximums, a cap at twenty-five attendees, and a limit on socializing before and afterward are for now solely recommendations. Though no longer required, I hope you’ll look on them as best practices as you consider meeting planning.
As you have suggestions, questions, or concerns about the Grand Lodge’s COVID plans, please continue to send them through your District Representative to the Grand Lodge office.
Your very Masonic responses to these months of restrictions are a testament to the type of men who are Minnesota Masons. While the world around us spins too often in seeming chaos, our Lodges are beacons of resolve where burdens are cheerfully borne and challenges thoughtfully considered. I thank you all so very much for that resolve.
Ethan A. Seaberg