As COVID-19 cases have surged in Minnesota over the last 10 days, Governor Tim Walz announced Tuesday he is “turning back the dial” in an attempt to slow the spread.
New restrictions are being placed on activities that are deemed “high-risk” by public health officials.
“It is not our intent to demonize any industry or any activity,” Walz said. “It’s simply important for us to understand, eight months into this, what is spreading this thing.”
The added restrictions are being placed on social gatherings along with bars and restaurants. According to Walz, 71% of the cases in Minnesota can be traced to private social gatherings including weddings, funerals, backyard barbecues, bars and restaurants. Data from contract tracing also shows a doubling in infections at social gatherings after 9 p.m., due in part, according to the Governor, to lowered inhabitions and lackadaisical social distancing from alcohol consumption.
New restrictions put in place go into effect at 10 p.m. Friday, unless otherwise noted:
• No more than 10 people at any indoor or outdoor private social gathering;
• No more than three households can be present at any indoor or outdoor private social gathering;
• On Nov. 27, receptions for weddings and funerals will be limited to 50 people. That number drops to 25 people on Dec. 11. These apply only to the reception and not to the wedding, funeral or similar planned ceremony itself;
• None of these events are allowed to take place between the hours of 10 p.m. and 4 a.m.;
• Bars and restaurants are limited to 50% capacity or no more than 150 people;
• Counters are to be closed for seating and service, unless it is a counter-service only establishment;
• Patrons must be seated at tables. No bar games that require standing are permitted; and
• No dine-in service between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m. Establishments may remain open for delivery and takeout during those hours.
Following the Governor’s announcement, Republican Party of Minnesota Chairwoman Jennifer Carnahan released a statement that read, in part:
“It is unfortunate the Governor is ordering bars and restaurants to close at 10 p.m.; why allow anything to be open at all,” she wrote. “The impact of his decisions will single-handedly further destroy an industry that is already struggling to make ends meet. What happened to a free and fair nation where individuals are allowed to choose personal responsibility and do what works best and is most comfortable for them?”
Walz, however, said during his announcement that in order to slow the spread, swift action must be taken.
“We need to move now,” Walz said. “This has moved incredibly quickly.
“This is painful. It’s no fun. We should have broken the back of this thing months ago in this country,” Walz said.
On Tuesday, Minnesota reported 4,906 new cases of COVID-19 statewide after that number topped 5,400 twice in the previous four days. Twenty three deaths were also reported Tuesday.
Morrison County reported 24 new cases on Tuesday, bringing its case total since the start of the pandemic to 1,191. There are 340 active cases in the county, which has a case rate of 102.72 infected people per 10,000.
We will have more on the new restrictions including local reaction in this weekend’s edition of the Morrison County Record.