Walz announces new COVID-19 restrictions on bars, restaurants, social gatherings

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (KTTC) — Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz announced new restrictions for the state’s bars and restaurants, along with restrictions on social gatherings, amid a recent spike in COVID-19 cases in the state.

In recent weeks, Minnesota has seen a significant increase in COVID-19 cases, with state health officials reporting a record single-day high of 5,924 cases on Sunday. Find the latest update from the Minnesota Department of Health here.

At a news conference on Tuesday afternoon, Walz said Minnesota’s bars and restaurants will be required to end dine-in service from 10 p.m. through 4 a.m. beginning on Friday. They also may not exceed 50% of the establishment’s total indoor capacity.

Walz said starting Friday, there will also be a 10-person limit for indoor and outdoor gatherings, and social gatherings must be limited to members of three households or less.

Weddings, funerals and similar events will also have capacity limits instituted through a phased approach, which will eventually lead to a 25-person cap, the governor said. Walz said these events may not take place between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m.

Walz said more than 70% of the state’s COVID-19 outbreaks from June to November have been linked to weddings, private social gatherings and late nights at bars and restaurants.

The governor said since data hasn’t shown a connection between religious services and recent outbreaks, there will not be changes to religious services.

“Since the beginning of this pandemic, we’ve asked Minnesotans to make unprecedented sacrifices for the greater good. And they’ve done it. Because when times are tough, Minnesotans pull together,” Walz said in a news release. “Each step of the way, we’ve followed the best data available. These targeted, science-based actions will help get the spread of the virus under control so that we can care for those who fall ill, get our kids in the classroom, keep our businesses open, and get back to the activities we love.”

The governor also announced $10 million in Small Business Relief Grants to support businesses struggling during the pandemic. The funding will reportedly support another 1,000 businesses that applied for the grant program.

On Monday, the governor announced an expansion of testing in the state, with more than a dozen new testing sites set to open in the coming weeks. Walz also announced on Monday plans to extend the state’s COVID-19 peacetime emergency, with a special session of the Minnesota Legislature set to take place on Thursday.

“Minnesota is in a dangerous phase of the pandemic with a dramatic jump in new cases,” Commissioner of Health Jan Malcolm said in a news release. “We’ve seen in other states how bad things can get when you have this kind of growth, and that’s why it’s critical that we take the right actions now to slow the spread of this disease. These focused actions taken by Governor Walz are designed to address some of the hottest of the hot spots we’ve seen and reduce the burden on our health care system and the heroes providing care to all of us.”

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