Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz announced a four week “pause” on in-person gatherings, dining, sports and fitness beginning at 11:59 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 20 and ending on Dec. 18, according to a Nov. 18 release.
Walz implemented the executive order following a surge in COVID-19 cases in the state. The decision comes less than a week after he tightened restrictions that required businesses to close earlier and capped their capacity at 150 people.
“Today marks a somber milestone in the pandemic as we surpass 3,000 Minnesotans lost to COVID-19,” Walz said. “This immense loss strikes at the heart of our state. We are at a breaking point. As hospitals near the crisis of turning away new patients, continuing as things are is simply not sustainable. The actions announced today will help prevent more families from losing a loved one and ensure our hospitals can treat those who fall ill. While these actions mean incredible hardship for many, they are the fastest way to recover our economy, keep our kids in school and get back to the activities we love.”
The order prohibits in-person gatherings except for people of the same household. In-person dining will not be allowed during the four weeks and all restaurants and bars must return to take-out and delivery orders only. Adult and youth sports will be prohibited, and fitness centers, gyms and other venues must close.
Retail and grocery stores, salons, places of worship and childcare may remain open with proper precautions in place. Schools will remain open under the Safe Learning Plan, with learning models subject to pivot depending on the state of the virus. All other current restrictions will remain in place, the release stated.
“To all Minnesotans who are struggling to get by, I know this pandemic is devastating,” Walz said. “This pandemic is not fair. We need federal support to help keep our businesses afloat, our workers paid, and our families with food on the table. I will continue to fight with every fiber of my being for that support that you need and deserve.”
Walz announced last week that he would add $10 million to the Small Business Relief Grants, which will aid an additional 1,000 businesses that have applied for relief funding, the release stated.
The virus has reached a dangerous level in the Midwest, the release stated. In the first 29 weeks of the virus, Minnesota had 100,000 cases. In the six weeks following that, the number of cases doubled. Sometime next week, the state is projected to reach 300,000 cases.
Currently, Minnesota has 242,043 total cases and 3,010 deaths. Four regions in the state have over 85 percent of their critical care beds in use. The state is projected to report 100,000 new cases by Thanksgiving day, Nov. 26.
More than a third of the people getting infected got the virus from an unknown source, Walz said in an address Wednesday evening, Nov. 18.
“I know the upcoming holidays make it incredibly difficult to stay home and stay apart, but this is how we keep the people we love safe and healthy,” Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan said. “Take it from me, no celebration is worth an empty seat that will never be filled. This dial back will help us do everything we can to make sure our tables are full next year.”