Walz to announce new COVID restrictions, including for restaurants, in Wednesday speech

Walz will address Minnesota at 6 p.m.
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Tim Walz

Gov. Tim Walz will announce a series of new restrictions aimed at limiting the spread of COVID-19 during a speech on Wednesday evening.

Walz will address Minnesotans at 6 p.m., when he will unveil his administration's new guidance as the state continues to deal with the escalating COVID crisis.

A Walz spokesman confirmed to BMTN that the new restrictions will include bars and restaurants, as well as gyms, fitness centers and social gatherings.

Walz spoke on Tuesday afternoon, but had only intimated that restrictions on youth sports would be forthcoming on Wednesday. Youth sports will be addressed in his 6 p.m. speech, with fall high school sports expected to be put on pause.

More details are expected to come out Wednesday ahead of Walz's speech.

The governor had previously expressed a reluctance for a return to the level of restrictions seen in the spring at the start of the pandemic, which included a two-and-a-half month shutdown for restaurants, bars, and non-essential retail, but did suggest on Tuesday that his administration would have to make tough decisions that could impact small businesses.

Last week he announced measures including the suspension of dine-in service at bars and restaurants after 10 p.m., as well as setting a new limit on social gatherings at 10 people from three households.

The situation has continued to worsen in Minnesota however, with the state's hospital system approaching capacity with worse set to come considering the growth in cases seen over the past week. On Tuesday, Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said the 10-person maximum for social gatherings is no longer "safe" such is the speed at which the virus is spreading, and urged Minnesotans not to attend Thanksgiving gatherings.

"The velocity that this is moving now compared to any other time is simply stunning," said Walz. "I just want to be totally candid with folks. Everything that gets directed toward these small businesses is awful, and it's nothing that we want to do. This is in the name of public health."

It comes as other states have been stepping up their COVID response. Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer this week announce a "three week pause" that includes the suspension of in-person tuition at schools and colleges, the closure of casinos and movie theaters, and the shutdown of indoor service at bars and restaurants.

Iowa and North Dakota – where COVID cases are among the highest in the country – have this week enacted face mask mandates, with Iowa also reducing service hours at bars and restaurants.

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