Walz orders restrictions on restaurants, temporary closure of bars and other ‘places of public amusement’ in fight against COVID-19

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Gov. Tim Walz ordered the temporary closure of restaurants, bars and "places of public amusement."

The measure will go into effect at 5 p.m. Tuesday and will last until March 27.

"This is our new normal," the governor said at an evening news conference, just one day after he ordered public schools across Minnesota to close by Wednesday in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. "I think I would forecast for the press that this is more than likely a rhythm that we may get into."

The announcement comes just a day after the governor signed an executive order for all K-12 public schools in the state to close March 18 through March 27.

Walz’s latest order will allow businesses to still operate if they choose but as takeout-only. Other states have announced similar moves, including New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Maryland, Illinois, Ohio, Massachusetts and Washington state.

The "places of public amusement" impacted include theaters, museums, gyms, amusement parks, arcades and other recreational facilities.

Grocery stores, convenience stores and pharmacies will remain open during the closure.

To cushion the blow, the governor signed a separate order making it easier for the thousands of workers facing layoffs because of the closures to get unemployment insurance. They were encouraged to apply online because the state’s call centers can’t handle the anticipated surge in requests

Earlier Monday, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) confirmed the number of positive cases of COVID-19 in the state had risen to 54, up by 19 from a day earlier. On Sunday, MDH also confirmed the state’s first three community spread cases, meaning it spread from person-to-person in the state rather than from exposure during travel as the previous cases had.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.