Governor Walz Announces 4-Week Closure of Bars, Restaurants and Fitness Centers; Youth Sports Also Impacted
Governor Orders 4-week Shutdown of Indoor Dining, Fitness Centers, Organized Sports Due to Surge in COVID-19 Cases.
Governor Tim Walz announced Wednesday evening the temporary closure of bars, restaurants and fitness centers. The restrictions take effect Friday, Nov. 20, at 11:59 p.m. and last until Friday, Dec. 18. Takeout from bars and restaurants would still be allowed. The restrictions also include a four-week pause on youth and high school sports during that time frame.
“We are at a breaking point. As hospitals near the crisis of turning away new patients, continuing as things are is simply not sustainable,” said Governor Walz. “The actions announced today will help prevent more families from losing a loved one and ensure our hospitals can treat those who fall ill. While these actions mean incredible hardship for many, they are the fastest way to recover our economy, keep our kids in school, and get back to the activities we love.”
Indoor entertainment venues such as bowling alleys and movie theaters, wedding event centers, dance studios and martial arts facilities are also ordered close under the four-week shutdown.
Walz said his decisions were based on where outbreaks of COVID-19 cases are largely coming from. The Minnesota Department of Health has identified 190 bars and restaurants across the state linked to 3,201 infections. Among the restaurants identified this month for outbreaks include the The Lookout Bar and Grill in Maple Grove with 12 total cases. Officials also identify 780 cases traced to 192 outbreaks in organized sports.
Walz: “We Need Federal Support”
Minnesota’s case positivity rate is 15.3%, putting the infection rate in the top 10 in the country. The governor also pointed to infection rates in states surrounding Minnesota that are “the highest on the planet.” According to health officials, more than one-third of new Minnesota infections have no known source.
“To all Minnesotans who are struggling to get by, I know this pandemic is devastating,” Walz said. “This pandemic is not fair. We need federal support to help keep our businesses afloat, our workers paid, and our families with food on the table. I will continue to fight with every fiber of my being for that support that you need and deserve.”
Nurses and doctors pointed out this week how precarious the situation has become for hospitals due to staffing shortages. The number of critical care beds are also in low supply. Hospitalizations, meanwhile, reached a new high this week due to COVID-19 , according to Minnesota Department of Health data. MDH Commissioner Jan Malcolm says COVID-related hospital admissions increased 80% in the last two weeks.
Governor Walz Issues New Gathering Restrictions
Walz also issued new restrictions on group gatherings in Minnesota before the Thanksgiving holiday. Gatherings will be limited just to individual households, under the mandate. A previous mandate on Nov. 10 allowed a maximum of 10 people from a total of three households.
On Wednesday morning, the Minnesota Department of Health reported 67 deaths, a new daily high, bringing the state total 3,010. MDH also reported 5,102 new cases on Wednesday.
Retail businesses, salons, and places of worship may continue to operate with proper precautions in place. Childcare centers also can remain open.
According to the 14-day case rate that school districts use for guidance, cases in Hennepin County have surged to 51 cases per 10,000 people. That timeframe is from Oct. 18-Oct. 31 with an update on the 14-day rate released Thursday. Under that level of cases, distance learning is recommended for all students, which all public school districts in the northwest suburbs have shifted to.
You can watch the Governor Walz’s Wednesday press conference here.