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IT'S OFFICIAL: Minnesota closing bars, restaurants, gyms for 4 weeks

The Associated Press and WDIO-TV
Updated: November 18, 2020 07:56 PM
Created: November 17, 2020 05:13 PM

Gov. Tim Walz announced new COVID-19 restrictions on Wednesday. | State of Minnesota, file Gov. Tim Walz announced new COVID-19 restrictions on Wednesday. | State of Minnesota, file

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz has announced new COVID-19 restrictions that will shut down indoor dining at bars and restaurants, close gyms and fitness centers, and put organized youth and adult sports on hold for four weeks.

The new executive order begins at 11:59 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 20 and continues through Friday, Dec. 18. 

“Just to be clear: No one thinks that this easy. And no one thinks that this is fair in how it's hitting. This virus is not fair," Walz said during a Wednesday night address to the state. 

Bars and restaurants will still be allowed to offer takeout during the four-week pause.

Read full Executive Order.

Celebrations of life events like weddings, funerals, and birthday parties are not allowed. Religious ceremonies can continue provided people maintain social distancing. Drive-in gatherings are permitted. Worship gatherings can continue at 50% capacity. 

Venues like movie theaters, bowling alleys and other indoor entertainment venues are also set to close. 

Organized youth and high school sports must stop, including practices, group workouts, games and tournaments. The same restrictions apply to organized adult sports. Professional and collegiate sports can continue without spectators.

Dial Back. What will be open and what will be paused in Minnesota | State of Minnesota Dial Back. What will be open and what will be paused in Minnesota | State of Minnesota

Walz spoke directly to people who are passionate about youth sports, saying: “I understand. It’s not easy, and it’s not fair. But it’s a sacrifice that we need to make.”

He said if we don't pause sports activities, we will "with absolute certainty" put hospitals at risk. On Monday, state health leaders reported data around COVID-19 outbreaks related to sports

Meanwhile, hair salons and barbershops can stay open at 50% capacity. Retail stores, dental offices, and elective surgeries will not be affected by the new restrictions. Childcare also remains open. 

"Unnecessary travel" is strongly discouraged. 

"Minnesotans are encouraged to stay close to home and are strongly discouraged from engaging in unnecessary travel, particularly to other states or countries," the executive order says. 

People arriving in Minnesota from other states or countries are asked to quarantine for 14 days. 

Critical Care Beds | State of Minnesota Critical Care Beds | State of Minnesota

Walz told reporters Tuesday that the state is trying to ease the strain on hospitals. Minnesota currently ranks seventh in the country for new cases per capita. Walz said the velocity of the virus' spread is “stunning."

Cases increasing in Minnesota, November | State of Minnesota Cases increasing in Minnesota, November | State of Minnesota

Gov. Walz told Minnesotans there is a tradeoff to everything we do. 

“What’s really hard about this is it’s some of the places that are most important to us," he said.

Willfully disobeying the executive order could result in a misdemeanor charge and $1,000 fine or up to 90 days in prison for individuals. Business owners, managers or supervisors may be subject to a gross misdeameanor charge and a $3,000 fine or up to a year in prison. 

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Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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