Calling it an “imperative” to curb crowds and gatherings amid the state’s fight against COVID-19, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz took extreme measures Monday, March 16, issuing Executive Order 20-04, which closes and limits thousands of restaurants, bars and other businesses throughout the state until Friday, March 27.
“It’s important that we continue to take steps to flatten the curve,” he said at a news conference Monday evening. “Right now, we are at a critical time. We still believe we are at this critical time in the fight against the coronavirus in our state.”
The Minnesota Department of Health announced earlier Monday the number of cases of COVID-19 had topped 50, with 54 – including three who received the virus through “community” measures, or mingling with someone who had the virus.
All other cases, to that point, had been related to travel out of the state.
“There’s no stopping the virus in Minnesota now, we know that. The goal is to contain it,” Walz said. “To slow it down.”
Curbside and delivery services will still be allowed at establishments like restaurants and coffee shops. But 24-hour gyms, health clubs, concert venues and other businesses will be shut down until March 27. The closure will start at 5 p.m. Wednesday, March 17.
“We know this will hurt thousands of Minnesotans. This is the impact of this virus coming home,” Walz said. “It came home with hundreds of thousands of school kids being told they couldn’t go to school. Now so many others are being told they can’t go and work their jobs.”
Walz, flanked by the State Health Commissioner and the State Executive Director of Economic Development, said the Minnesota State Unemployment Insurance Program was being prepped for the mass layoff – the largest in state history – so those who work in the industries impacted could file for benefits.
“It won’t make you whole, but it will help in this time,” Walz said.
As for supermarkets and pharmacies – which have held fast in other countries during the virus outbreak – Walz is hoping they will stay open.
“I encourage supermarkets, pharmacies, and other establishments providing essential retail goods and services to remain open, subject to best practices, including social distancing, established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Minnesota Department of Health. That said, certain other public accommodations in which Minnesotans congregate pose a threat to the public health by providing environments for the spread of COVID-19,” he said.
In total, the Executive Order closes:
- Restaurants, food courts, cafes, coffeehouses, and other places of public accommodation offering food or beverage for on-premises consumption, excluding institutional or in-house food cafeterias that serve residents, employees, and clients of businesses, child care facilities, hospitals, and long- term care facilities.
- Bars, taverns, brew pubs, breweries, microbreweries, distilleries, wineries, tasting rooms, clubs, and other places of public accommodation offering alcoholic beverages for on-premises consumption.
- Hookah bars, cigar bars, and vaping lounges offering their products for on- premises consumption.
- Theaters, cinemas, indoor and outdoor performance venues, and museums.
- Gymnasiums, fitness centers, recreation centers, indoor sports facilities, indoor exercise facilities, exercise studios, and spas.
- Amusement parks, arcades, bingo halls, bowling alleys, indoor climbing facilities, skating rinks, trampoline parks, and other similar recreational or entertainment facilities.
- Country clubs, golf clubs, boating or yacht clubs, sports or athletic clubs, and dining clubs.