Minnesota bars and restaurants must stop serving at 10 p.m. and attendance at weddings, funerals and social gatherings will be limited under new restrictions Gov. Tim Walz announced Nov. 10 to try to slow the accelerating spread of  the coronavirus.

The new rules, which take effect today, Nov. 13, are aimed at young adults, ages 18 to 35, who are often carriers of the virus without showing symptoms and are among the primary spreaders in the state.

Restaurants and bars will still be allowed to offer takeout and delivery service after 10 p.m. But the new rules will ban sitting at the bar and activities that involve standing — such as pool, darts and dancing — because they encourage patrons to gather closely together. The changes target people who mingle without masks after too many drinks.

Those eating establishments will have a capacity cap of 150 patrons, including both inside and outside settings, and table size will be limited to 10 people with guidance to keep to households or less, Minnesota  Department of Employment and Economic Development Commissioner Steve Grove elaborated in a statement. In counter-service only establishments, patrons wearing masks are allowed to line up and order before returning to their tables.

“We know that dialing back is challenging for our economy,” Grove said. “Our hope is that by specifically targeting these dial backs on where the outbreak data shows us the challenges lie, we can turn the tide on this spread rather than engaging in broader shutdown measures that so many other states have

engaged in.”

Stillwater’s response

Greater Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Robin Anthony told The Gazette in light of the new restrictions the chamber will be promoting local businesses more than they ever have before.

She stated that local establishments will continue to follow federal safety guidelines recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“The first thing is to continue to be safe and follow CDC requirements that’s what the businesses want to do continue to build consumer confidence,” Anthony said.

While new restrictions set limitations on food and beverage locations, they won’t affect retail establishments.

As the retail holiday season begins soon, the chamber director urged residents to frequent Stillwater-area vendors instead of shopping at large online retailers.

“We’re really encouraging our local community to shop local this year,” Anthony said.

To help out during the pandemic, the chamber also is implementing a program called  chamber bucks where patrons can buy the notes, and use them later at any participating restaurants

and retailers.

“That’s something that will really help our business, buy chamber bucks — and gift cards are very important right now,” Anthony said. “Keep the businesses in business.”

The two options are a way to support Stillwater area businesses by having patrons purchase the items when coronavirus numbers are spiking and residents may be hesitant to frequent establishments. When the COVID-19 numbers subside, and residents may feel safe, they can redeem those chamber bucks and gift cards.

In the meantime, Anthony encouraged residents to order food to go from local eateries.

“Get as much take out from these restaurants as you possibly can,” she said. “We’ll be doing a lot more promotions; it is the time the community needs to come together to support our local businesses who live here and raise their children here.”

At the Zephyr Theatre, it will continue hosting socially distanced events with the governor’s new restrictions, Executive Director Calyssa Hall said on Nov. 10. The Theatre will move to table service only, and will only operate at half capacity.

“Our 50% capacity is way below the 150-person limit,” Hall said. “We will move forward with what events we already had planned. We believe that art is important no matter what are the circumstances. We will continue to be creative in being safe …”

Gathering restrictions

Minnesota’s guidelines currently limit private social gatherings to 10 people in a home and 25 people outside. The new limit is 10 inside or outside. The state is recommending indoor gatherings be limited to three households.

Weddings and funerals that health officials said are significant sources of contagion in the state, will be capped at 50 people as of Nov. 7, and at 25 as of Dec. 11 to allow for a phase-in period, since many events were already planned. The new restrictions come after record-setting highs in new coronavirus cases,

hospitalizations, and deaths in Minnesota.

The seven-day rolling average of the positivity rate in the state has more than doubled over the past two weeks from 6.3% on Oct. 26 to 13.5% on Nov. 9, according to data from The COVID Tracking Project. The state’s seven-day rolling average of daily new cases has nearly tripled over the past two weeks from 1,562 to 4,453. And the rolling average of daily COVID-19 deaths in Minnesota has risen over that period from 16 to 27


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