Minnesota Governor Walz recently announced that state indoor/outdoor capacity limits and mask requirements are over! However, other jurisdictions (such as the City of St. Paul where Uptown House resides) and private entities may retain these restrictions.
Starting May 28, Uptown House will be returning to our pre-pandamic table and chair setup, and expect the St. Paul City mask mandate to expire soon. We continue to monitor the community situation and look forward to the day that we will safely welcome back all of our regular in-person groups at the previous schedule.
Online AA meetings through Uptown House and other venues really helped me get through a bleak pandemic winter. But now that most folks vulnerable to covid are vaccinated, its time to get back to in-person meetings at Uptown. Face-to-face meetings is how AA is meant to be practiced. Its a big part of AA heritage.
I had a good conversation with Uptown Steering Board Chairperson Peter K. this morning on this very subject, and he agrees. I’m 65 and fully vaccinated (Moderna). I’ve been to three in-person meetings at Uptown the last two weeks. There have been 6-10 people in attendance. All wore masks and maintained a 6-foot distance. While surface-borne infections are now seen as unlikely by health experts, Uptown House also has hand san and washes down chairs after every meeting. Now, as of this update (May 17), these procedures are no longer required by the state health department, but still are by St. Paul.
In-person meetings are good for old timers like myself, but especially for newcomers too. I don’t think I would have remained sober in my early days without in-person meetings. Also, Uptown House needs in-person meetings to remain a functional, viable AA destination in every sense of the term.
At this point, everybody should know if they may attend in-person meetings or not. We can make that judgement now for ourselves. Minnesota Department of Health guidelines now allow for indoor, in-person gatherings for vaccinated, masked and distanced folks for example, in restaurants and bars.
The recovery community needs to get back to normal. When I was a newcomer I was disconnected from myself and others. This was a big barrier to sobriety and living a normal life. A big part of my short-term and long-term recovery was getting back in touch with myself, other recovering people, family and friends. This process is best facilitated by face-to-face interaction. There is no substitute for social intimacy. We are social creatures. We wither without it.
In an effort to walk my talk, I’ll be helping re-open the popular Saturday 10 a.m. meeting starting April 8! This may take time, but I believe its necessary on many levels. I hope our readers will take similar steps to help Uptown House and its members leave the pandemic lock-down behind us and get back to AA’s longtime, proven and valued heritage of face-to-face meetings. We hope other, previously regular in-person meetings will also get running again.