President Donald Trump's scheduled rally in southern Minnesota was in flux much of Thursday after his campaign moved the event from Rochester to a small town in another county and then back to Rochester. According to state officials, the rally should follow COVID-19 safety guidelines, including a cap of 250 participants.
Rochester Mayor Kim Norton stated on Thursday that she had just received a message from the city lawyer confirming that the Trump campaign had agreed to scale back the airport rally to an invitation-only gathering not exceeding 250 people.
President Trump officially limited his Rochester, Minn., rally audience to the said number of people on Friday in accordance with directives from Governor Tim Walz to address the increase in novel coronavirus cases.
The Minnesota Department of Health registered 2,872 positive tests on Thursday. Admission to hospitals and fatalities have also been spiking.
According to a tweet by the president on Thursday, "We were planning for as many as 25,000 people in Minnesota. Now, the governor, at the last moment, will only allow the first 250 people to attend. Riots plus Omar = WIN!"
Trump's campaign rally was initially planned for Rochester International Airport before it was moved to a business in Dodge Center then back to the Rochester airport on Friday.
The property owner claimed Secret Service informed him that the state would no longer allow the event at that location due to probable crowd size issues.
According to the airport executive director in an e-mail from September 27, "That's all the [Duluth Airport Authority] can do. We do not have the resources for enforcement at the event. We will rely on the city's emergency management and police for strict enforcement," reported City Pages.
Governor Walz has advised both Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden to abide by state COVID-19 safety guidelines on masks, social distancing, and crowd sizes.
According to Walz, "Please demonstrate that you value Minnesota by protecting the health of our communities. Join us in our efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19, keep our businesses open, and get back to the activities we love," reported StarTribune.
The Trump campaign has been holding rallies in battleground states.
Walz did not mention in his letter how state and local officials will respond if the Trump or Biden campaigns fail to comply with the guidelines for their events.
Attorney General Keith Ellison released a statement indicating his office and other agencies had a conference call meeting on Wednesday with a Republican National Committee official regarding their roles for a "safe, compliant" event. They later requested the RNC to provide them a COVID-19 preparedness plan for the Rochester airport rally but received no response.
The Trump campaign sent a notice to participants on Thursday informing them of changes to the rally at the airport and blaming Walz and Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison for limiting free speech. The governor extended Minnesota's emergency peacetime order earlier this October.
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