An interesting bit from the article got me thinking. I wonder if periods like this could cause some degree of mutation furthering evolution or possibly leading to an increase in cancer? ( I'm not a biologist, just a curious reader. )
I think by "reach the Earth" they're talking on a solar system distance scale, so the sense would be: these high-energy cosmic rays of the sun would have an easier path to reach near-earth space
(or the space around any planet) but not the surface of Earth itself. The atmosphere still remains a good shield against this kind of heavy radiation, so down on the ground the dip in sunspots won't make much of a difference for the inflow of heavy solar radiation. But astronauts living or travelling on board a spaceship are exposed to cosmic radiation even when they're not walking around on the outside, so it would make a difference to them.
Note, it's the weakening of the magnetic field of the sun
they are picking up on, not any weakening of the field around the Earth or any depletion of the atmosphere.