With just over a week left of Gov. Tim Walz's four-week "pause" in response to COVID-19 that has required certain businesses to close, the question now being posed is whether it will be extended.
The executive order – which closed dine-in service at bars and restaurant, has shut down gyms and entertainment venues, and put a pause on youth sports – expires at the end of Dec. 18, and the governor is now mulling whether to extend it.
COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations have trended down since the lockdown went into effect, though remain significantly higher than at any point prior to November, while deaths remain high.
However, we're currently reaching the point where Minnesota sees whether there has been an increase in cases from Thanksgiving gatherings, which should be indicated in the state's COVID-19 data in the coming days.
It's possibly for that reason that Gov. Walz is waiting until Monday to make a decision on whether the order will be extended or adjusted, which his spokesperson has confirmed Thursday.
On Wednesday, he convened a special session of the Minnesota Legislature for this coming Monday, with the intention that lawmakers can come to terms on a financial support package for businesses and workers affected by COVID.
There have been a few indications that people are expecting an extension of the shutdown for bars and restaurants in Minnesota.
When Hudson, Wisconsin, passed its 10 p.m. bar curfew due to the "influx" of Minnesotans, its order said the curfew will be in place until Jan. 4, "as a result of the restrictions on bars and restaurants in the State of Minnesota which restrictions are expected to be in place through January 4, 2021."
There have also been apparent rumblings of bars and restaurants planning to open on Dec. 19 no matter what happens, suggesting they believe the lockdown may be extended.
An extension would bring the shutdown over the Christmas period, which some health officials – including Dr. Anthony Fauci – have warned could be riskier than Thanksgiving given that people tend to visit at Christmas for longer, leading to a higher risk of exposure to the virus.
As well as bars and restaurants, there have been loud calls from the fitness industry to allow gyms to reopen. On Tuesday, Life Time revealed a reopening proposal for the fitness industry, which includes requiring all gym users to wear masks – even when they're exercising.
One adjustment that could be made next week is with regards to youth sports, with Walz saying during a Tuesday press conference that "it's the one we're trying to figure out."