Walz announces new COVID-19 restrictions for gatherings, puts bar and restaurant curfew in place | KSTP.com

Walz announces new COVID-19 restrictions for gatherings, puts bar and restaurant curfew in place

KSTP & Callan Gray
Updated: November 10, 2020 10:54 PM
Created: November 10, 2020 06:15 AM

UPDATE: Business owners reacted to the restrictions Tuesday night, concerned about the impact it will have on the hospitality industry.

“I was a little bit shocked,” said Courtney Curry, owner of Fork and Flair Catering. “Honestly that difference in capacity is going to be really difficult for our business. My company is set up for large events for weddings, for larger social gatherings, things like that. We’re able to do the smaller events as well but we can’t do those smaller events without being able to do those larger events.”

She said the restrictions follow months of rescheduling and postponing events. 

“Now it’s all going start over again so, yeah, it’s going to be really tough," said Curry. "Tough for the company, tough for our clients, tough for everybody."

She said she has no problem with the 10 p.m. event end time.

“We do see that at our events where that’s when things start to loosen up and things start to get a little bit out of hand,” said Curry. 

Still, she would’ve liked to see a different approach for events, which she believes are a more controlled environment than bars and restaurants. Instead of limiting capacity, Curry would rather see a focus on enforcing mask wearing and social distancing.  
“There are such large venues out there that we can have these very beautiful social gatherings and so why would we not look at those a little bit differently?” said Curry

Minnesota Licensed Beverage Association Executive Director Tony Chesak said while he understands the seriousness of the pandemic, a lot of mom and pop business owners are already just hanging on under the current restrictions.

“It’s survival tactic at this point in time, staff are going to be disenfranchised, folks are going to have to let more staff go, the unemployment rate is going to go up like it had in the past,” said Chesak. “This is going to result in a lot of bars closing down permanently.”

He said they were caught off guard by the new restrictions. 

“We have a lot of questions, a lot of concerns,” he said. “Not having a seat at this final table for this next round of restrictions was difficult. Hours of operation could've been extended, let’s try a different path.”

According to Chesak, federal and state aid will be essential for saving small businesses in Minnesota. 

“Right before the holiday season is going to be dark,” he said. “It’s going to be hard for our people to recoup during this, especially when the dial turn continues to go to the left, not to the right.”

UPDATE - 2:25 p.m.:

As Minnesota and other midwestern states continue to see a rise in COVID-19 cases, Gov. Tim Walz announced new restrictions for gatherings and placed a curfew on bars and restaurants.

"We turned our dials, we're gonna have to turn them a little back today," Walz said Tuesday while announcing the new restrictions during a press conference. 

The new restrictions are set to go into place Friday.

"This is painful, it's no fun, I'm as frustrated as you are," said Gov. Wazl. "We should've broken the back of this thing months ago in this country."

Under the restrictions, bars and restaurants are required to end dine-in services between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m. Indoor capacity will also be capped at 150 people. Bar seating will also be closed, with the exception of establishments that only have bar seating.

In regards to gatherings, there is a 10-person limit for indoor and outdoor gatherings, and all social gatherings must be limited to members of three households or less.

For events like weddings and funerals, an instituted phased approach with be put in place. However, eventually, a 25-person cap will be put in place. Reception events may also not take place between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m.

"If we dont make these changes, if we dont change our behavior we will have 10,000 cases, we will have 1,500 people in the hospital and we will be reporting, God forbid, 50 or more deaths a day," said Walz.

According to Walz, 71 percent of coronavirus infections in the state have occurred during private gatherings, at bars and restaurants and during weddings and funerals. 

Walz said Minnesota is in the same position that North and South Dakota were in the previous few months in regards to case numbers and hospital capacity, and that the state could join them without changes to guidelines and restrictions. 

"Making some of these smart decisions will make a difference," Walz said.

He added, "We are resilient people. We're pretty gritty, we're pretty tough and we're going to need it now," he said. 

Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development Commissioner Steve Grove also spoke during Tuesday's press conference. 

Grove said during the pandemic, the state lost over 380,000 jobs, paying over $8.5 billion in unemployment. He said about half of those jobs are now back and that 260,000 Minnesotans are claiming unemployment benefit. 

The commissioner added that more financial help is likely on the way, but said that people need to continue following health guidelines to help the state's economy. 

"You have control over where this goes," he said.

UPDATE: Tuesday, Gov. Tim Walz is expected to roll out a new round of COVID-19 restrictions as Minnesota faces its most challenging battle yet slowing the spread of cases.

Sources confirmed to KSTP Chief Political Reporter Tom Hauser that Walz will announce a curfew for serving food and drinks at bars and restaurants. The curfew is expected to be 10 p.m. but takeout will still be allowed after that time.

According to Hauser, the bar and restaurant curfew is expected to begin on Friday.

Additionally, Walz is expected to place new limits on gatherings at private homes. The governor will limit gatherings to a maximum of 10 people, regardless of whether the gathering is indoors or outdoors. Those gatherings will also be limited to people from a maximum of three households.

Wedding and funeral receptions are also expected to be limited by Walz, with a phased approach expected to limit those receptions to a maximum of 50 people before eventually reducing that limit to 25. More people will be allowed at the church services for funerals and weddings, Hauser said.

Walz, along with health officials and Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development Commissioner Steve Grove, will announce the new restrictions at 2 p.m. Tuesday. You can watch that announcement live on 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS and online.

Original story:

Tuesday, Gov. Tim Walz is expected to roll out a new round of COVID-19 restrictions as Minnesota faces its most challenging battle yet slowing the spread of cases.

Monday, the Minnesota Department of Health stated there were 3,930 newly reported positive COVID-19 tests and 19 new deaths.

Those numbers were down from Sunday's record of 5,924 cases and 31 new deaths, but over the last week, more than 31,000 Minnesotans have been diagnosed with COVID-19.

Walz said he is confident the state does not need to get too aggressive, saying as long as people continue to follow state health guidelines, Minnesotans can continue to live their lives with some normalcy. 

However, 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS is learning young adults, and what they like to do, could be most affected by Tuesday's announcement. 

That, of course, includes bars and restaurants. The industry has always been a focus during this pandemic.

Walz said he's not ready for another statewide shutdown, noting it would do more damage than good, but he did say state leaders are preparing to target certain industries instead of a broad stay-at-home order. 

Meanwhile, more than a dozen testing sites will open in the next couple of weeks and state leaders said they're close to making at-home tests more available. 

The governor said he hopes that will help them track and trace the virus to slow it down as well. 

Walz: 'Testing strategy is key,' more than a dozen new COVID-19 testing sites statewide announced

Walz will make his latest announcement Tuesday at 2 p.m.

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