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Walz set to announce 4-week closure for bars, restaurants, gyms

Details have started coming out about the governor's announcement.

More details are filtering out about Gov. Tim Walz's Wednesday evening announcement of new COVID-19 restrictions.

The governor said Tuesday that he would be announcing a likely "pause" on organized youth sports, but it emerged later that he is planning on more expansive restrictions that will encompass the hospitality, fitness, and entertainment industries, as well as for social gatherings.

Here's an overview of what is expected as of Wednesday morning, based on what BMTN has learned:

  • Bars and restaurants will cease dine-in service for four weeks starting this Friday.
  • Gyms, fitness centers, movie theaters, bowling alleys, museums, and other entertainment venues will close for this period.
  • Wedding receptions and post-funeral events set to be put on hold.
  • A four-week "pause" on indoor youth sports, including hockey, and outdoor team sports may also be affected.
  • The restrictions may be extended beyond four weeks depending upon the situation in a month's time.

At this stage it's unclear what the new guidance will be for social gatherings. Last week, the Minnesota Department of Health's guidance changed to a maximum of 10 people from three different households.

But just days later, Minnesota Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said that due to the escalating rate of cases, this guidance was no longer considered safe, particularly as Thanksgiving approaches.

Minnesotans are being asked to skip their traditional Thanksgiving gatherings and instead celebrate with their own household where possible.

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The possible hold on wedding receptions and post-funeral gatherings would mark a change from restrictions imposed last week, which laid out a plan to reduce the size of such events to 50 people beginning Nov. 27, and 25 people starting Dec. 11.

There will be a wider impact on Minnesota businesses and workers, who now face the prospect of four weeks with reduced or loss of income, and still no sign of an income support deal being struck in Congress, though Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have written to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell inviting him to renewed negotiations on a stimulus bill.

Bars and restaurants will have to shift back to the takeout-only model as was the case during the initial Stay at Home order in the spring.

One bar owner, Wes Burdine of the Black Hart in St. Paul, has called for measures that can help venues sell their excess alcohol before and during the shutdown.

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