On the day Minnesota reported a record 67 deaths from COVID-19, Gov. Tim Walz announced sweeping new restrictions that he hopes will help slow the spread.
“We are at a point in this pandemic where the decisions we make now will have huge reprecussians,” Walz said in statement Wednesday evening.
In some areas, the new restrictions — which go into effect at 11:59 p.m., Friday, Nov. 20 — are similar to those imposed in the spring, when COVID-19 first became prevalent in the United States.
The restrictions, which are in effect for four weeks, include:
• Social gatherings are limited to members of the household only;
• All entertainment centers, including movie theaters, bowling alleys, etc., are to be closed;
• All bars and restaurants will be closed to indoor dining or service. Takeout and delivery is allowed;
• All youth sports are to be paused for four weeks;
• All gyms and health clubs are to remain closed for four weeks;
• Weddings and funerals are allowed, but there will be no receptions; and
• Out-of-state travel is highly discouraged. Anyone who travels into Minnesota from out of state is asked to quarantine for 14 days.
The shutdowns, according to Walz, are an attempt to keep hospitals from becoming overwhelmed. According to the Minnesota Department of Health, the state has experienced a seven-day growth rate of COVID-19 cases of 75.5%. Walz said during Wednesday’s speech that it took Minnesota 29 weeks to reach 100,000 cases. It took only six weeks for the next 100,000 cases and, at the current rate, the next 100,000 will take less than three weeks.
According to MDH, only 76 critical care beds are currently available statewide; 11 of which are in central Minnesota.
Walz said Minnesotans responded strongly to the first round of shutdowns. Compliance with the restrictions allowed hospitals to stock up on supplies and better prepare for a surge like the state is now experiencing.
Though supplies and plans are in place, Walz said the biggest challenge is the number of health care providers who are getting ill themselves. The restrictions, he hopes, will help keep them healthy through slowing community spread.
“Our health care workers are not getting it in their facilities,” Walz said. “They’re getting it out in the community.”
Walz said since the beginning, health professionals have learned a great deal about the virus that causes COVID-19. With that knowledge, some restrictions that were in place this spring will not be necessary during this current round. Schools will remain in the state’s safe learning plan, places of worship and child care facilities will remain open, as will barbershops and salons.
Walz also called upon the federal government to reach a new stimulus package to help workers and business owners who are being hit the hardest by the shutdown.
“For those of you that are worried financially, I hear you,” Walz said.
“Minnesotans, I’m asking something of you that should have never been asked of you again,” he said.
Upon the release of the latest restrictions, the Republican Party of Minnesota released a statement in which it criticized Walz’s decision to “turn back the dial.”
“Governor Tim Walz’s unilateral decision to shut down our economy again is disconcerting, especially as we enter the holiday season,” read the statement. “This has already been a difficult year for Minnesota’s small businesses, and Gov. Walz is not even giving them a fighting chance.”
Walz expressed concern for those being negatively impacted by the restrictions financially, mentally or otherwise, but said it is “a dangerous time” in which action needed to be taken.
“No one thinks that this is easy,” he said. “No one thinks this is fair.”