Further restrictions are being implemented throughout Minnesota to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus, and Gov. Tim Walz will announce Monday that all Minnesota restaurants and bars will no longer be allowed to offer dine-in servicing.
Curbside pick-up, delivery and drive-thru orders will be allowed, but the dine-in services will come to a halt at 5 p.m. Tuesday and lasting through at least March 27.
Additionally, congregating at other places of entertainment and fitness is also prohibited. This includes food courts, cafes, coffee houses and other eateries, along with taverns, brew pubs, breweries, clubs, bowling alleys and fitness centers. Libraries were mentioned as a place that can stay open so long as social distancing is employed.
Grocery stores and pharmacies are encouraged to stay open.
"It's uncertain times. There are patterns in other countries of where this goes," said Walz, hinting at the explosive growth of COVID-19 in Italy, Spain, Iran and other countries overaseas, adding that Minnesota is "still at a critical time to bend the curve and avoid overwhelming the health system."
"We aren't going to stop this from spreading, but we can stop how fast it spreads and protect those most vulnerable," Walz added.
Bottom line: Walz urged Minnesotans to stop congregating in large numbers.
"We're seeing folks still congregating in large numbers," he said. This is now the time, if we are going to break this chain."
To help all of the hundreds of thousands of workers who'll be affected by the executive order, Walz enacted another executive order that will immediately allow unemployment benefits to be delivered by opening the state's unemployment trust fund.
What it means:
- Immediate financial support workers affected by business closures.
- Ensures anyone whose health or health of a loved one is affected by the crisis.
Steve Grove, commissioner of the department of economics and employment, urges every affected worker to go to UIMN.org and apply.
"It is critical that you use our website," Grove added, noting that call center lines need to be reserved for non-English-speaking workers and those without access to the internet.
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey declared a peacetime state of emergency for the city on Monday, and ordered that all city restaurants be limited to takeout, delivery and drive-through beginning at noon Tuesday.
Not only have schools and restaurants been limited or completely closed, Metro Transit announced Monday that it will suspend all bus and light rail service from 11 p.m. to 4:30 a.m. beginning Tuesday.
In addition, President Trump held a news conference Monday afternoon urging Americans to avoid attending any gatherings larger than 10 people, and to practice social distancing everywhere (stay at least 6 feet away from others).
"People are talking about July, August," said the president when asked how long the pandemic could last.
Trump said he is not at the point to consider a nationwide, mandatory lockdown, but "hot spots" where the virus is prevalent could be looked at.
There are 54 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Minnesota, but the health department says there are "many more" unconfirmed cases in the state.