The Minnesota DFL Party is moving its statewide convention online in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Chairman Ken Martin said while canceling plans for the in-person convention in late May is “disappointing” to activists and candidates, the party’s “first responsibility is to protect the health and well-being of the people of Minnesota.”

“By staying home, we are taking care of older Minnesotans and those with compromised immune systems. By staying home, we are saving lives,” Martin said in a statement late Friday. “While this was not an easy decision to come to, I am confident that it is the right one and that DFL Party members will understand the urgent need to slow the spread of COVID-19.”

The DFL convention was scheduled to take place in Rochester May 30 and 31. The Minnesota Republican Party announced last week that it, too, is canceling an in-person gathering and holding its convention online instead.

Democrats attending the conventions endorse statewide candidates, select delegates for the national convention, consider resolutions and conduct other party business. Martin said endorsements will be conducted through an online balloting system. Endorsements in congressional and state legislative races have already moved to a virtual format.

State and national conventions also serve as an opportunity for candidates and party leaders to fire up their bases heading into an election. The Democratic National Convention, originally scheduled to take place in Milwaukee mid-July, has been postponed until August. The GOP’s national convention is currently scheduled to be held in Charlotte beginning Aug. 24.