Minnesota Governor Tim Walz is slated to speak Wednesday afternoon after announcing he’s relaxing COVID-19 restrictions for Minnesota bars and restaurants, which have been closed to indoor dining for the last six weeks.
In a press release issued ahead of a scheduled 2 p.m. press conference, the governor said he is adjusting the dials on state COVID restrictions, allowing bars and restaurants to reopen indoor dining at 50% capacity, or up to 150 people. Restaurant tables will be able to seat up to six people, and bars will be able to seat groups of two, CBS Minnesota reports.
How to watch Governor Tim Walz speak today
- What: Minnesota Governor Tim Walz speaks after loosening COVID-19 restrictions.
- Date: Wednesday, January 6, 2021
- Time: 2 p.m. local time (3 p.m. ET)
- Location: St. Paul, Minnesota
- Online stream: Live on CBSN Minnesota in the player above and on your mobile or streaming device
Under the new rules, reservations will be required, and establishments must close by 10 p.m.
The new rules are slated to take effect Monday, when the governor’s current executive order banning indoor dining is set to expire.
“The situation in Minnesota is undeniably better than it was last month,” Walz said in the statement. “We have reasons to be optimistic, and Minnesotans’ sacrifice and commitment to their communities helped change the pandemic’s trajectory and saved lives. But we need to protect the progress we’ve made.”
For nearly two months, bars and restaurants in Minnesota have had to survive via takeout during a period that, in a regular year, can make-or-break a business. In December, outdoor dining was allowed at 50% capacity, but that doesn’t help many businesses, as patrons don’t flock to patios when daytime temperatures are below freezing.
Some businesses have defied the governor’s order, facing lawsuits from Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison and even the loss of their liquor licenses.
The executive order banning indoor dining was issued in mid-November at a time when Minnesota experienced a record surge in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths. Health officials said that several outbreaks were linked to bars and restaurants, with the virus spreading primarily among young adults. The order also restricted social gatherings ahead of the holidays, halted youth sports, and forced gyms to close for weeks.
In his statement, Walz announced relaxed restrictions for gyms. Starting Monday, gyms will be able to hold up to 150 people, although capacity will remain capped at 25%. Up to 25 people will be allowed in classes, given that there can be 9 feet between people/machines. Masks will be required.
Note: Streaming plans are subject to change
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