Gov. Walz: Restaurant and school closures will be extended

The initial closure orders are set to expire at the end of this week.
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The shutdown of Minnesota's schools and hospitality and entertainment industry will continue beyond the end of this week, Gov. Tim Walz has said.

The shutdowns were put in place earlier this month in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, with both orders to close schools and dine-in service at bars and restaurants set to expire on Mar. 27.

But during Tuesday's media update, Gov. Walz said that the closures will be extended, but due to the "fluid" nature of the outbreak and the mitigation efforts to slow its spread, he was hesitant to put a date on when the closures would be extended to.

"There may come a point where we can say our children aren't coming back this year but because it's so fluid we don't want to make definite pronouncements," he said.

It comes as Walz and other state leaders await the latest data on how Minnesota's community mitigation efforts are working to slow the virus, with Walz expressing hope that Minnesota is having better results than a lot of other states and countries because it decided to close schools and bars earlier than elsewhere.

He said the past 3-4 days of modeling has shown that the steps the state has taken so far is slowing the spread of COVID-19, and if they continue to "flatten the curve" it might not require a more severe shutdown such as "shelter in place" imposed in other states.

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He also rejected the notion he was being "pressured" by businesses to loosen the restrictions, instead saying he's received many ideas from industry on how to support the local economy while protecting public health.

Since the shutdowns went into effect, affecting a huge range of hospitality and entertainment businesses, the number of unemployment applications has surged, with just under 150,000 applicants between Mar. 16 and 23.

Of those applicants, 48,540 have come from the food preparation and services industry, with Minnesota restaurants suddenly having to transition to delivery or takeout services.

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