Walz non-committal on extension of restaurant, gym closures

He has suggested that the ban on mixing with people outside your household could continue over Christmas.
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While Gov. Tim Walz suggested Monday that the current guidance with regards to social gatherings could continue through Christmas, he was non-committal Tuesday when asked if the same can be said about the restaurant, gym, and entertainment venue shutdown.

Minnesota is amidst a four-week "pause" that expires on Dec. 18, with dine-in service at bars and restaurants shut down along with gyms, fitness centers, youth sports, and other indoor recreation and entertainment venues, as the state tries to get to grips with its COVID-19 crisis.

With the end of the "pause" still two-and-a-half weeks away, Walz wouldn't be drawn yet on whether it will be extended, even though the ban on social gatherings with anyone outside your own household that was put in place at the same time could continue through Christmas.

But the governor did say that despite a slight dip in cases, hospitalizations, and deaths from COVID-19 in recent days, it is "likely we’re not out of the worst part of this yet."

State health officials are currently waiting to see if there is any knock-on impact from Thanksgiving in terms of cases, with any rise associated with Thanksgiving gatherings that happened despite the ban likely to be seen in the next week or two.

Walz said Monday that it's possible that the guidance in terms of gatherings for Christmas is likely to be similar to that for Thanksgiving.

"I'm not going to surprise anybody. I think the guidance around Thanksgiving is going to be very similar around Christmas," Walz said. "I would assume that there would be little reason for me to believe that there's going to be a dramatic change to the trajectory and the virus spread in the next...little less than four weeks." 

Walz and the Minnesota Legislature have been working on measures that can help the industries affected by the latest shutdown, with the hope a relief bill can be passed at the next special session.

On Monday, the governor said he'd back a move to allow to-go cocktails to be sold from bars and restaurants, saying he would like to see the Legislature push through a deal to that effect.

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