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Walz puts four-week pause on indoor dining, social activities, and sporting events to combat coronavirus spread

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LA CRESCENT, Minn. (WXOW) - Minnesota Governor Tim Walz announced more restrictions Wednesday night to help control the spread of COVID-19 in the state.

The new order closes indoor dining at local bars and restaurants and pauses indoor social activities, gyms, and sporting events for four weeks. It begins on November 20, at 11:59 pm, and lasts until Friday, December 18.

"As hospitals near the crisis of turning away new patients, continuing as things are simply not sustainable," said Walz in a news release. "The actions announced today will help prevent more families from losing a loved one and ensure our hospitals can treat those who fall ill. While these actions mean incredible hardship for many, they are the fastest way to recover our economy, keep our kids in school, and get back to the activities we love.”

The state reported a record 67 deaths on Wednesday, topping last week's high of 56.

Over 1,000 health care physicians and providers expressed the severe strain they are seeing in hospitals and clinics around the state to the governor, pledging their support to the new order. Staff shortages due to infection, hospital space, and long term care facility deaths are just some of the problems doctors, nurses, and other medical staff is facing.

“While Mayo Clinic recognizes the temporary sacrifices these restrictions may require members of the community to make, they will enhance Minnesota's ability to gain control of the surge and return to safe and normal daily life sooner," said a spokesperson for Mayo Clinic Health System. 

The new restrictions are expected to financially impact restaurants, bars, and gyms the most.

"It's disheartening to have to tell them that," said Lori Kadlec about her staff at Kaddy's Cafe. "They've been through it once already. Hopefully, this will be the final time."

Restaurants like Kaddy's Cafe in La Crescent have already felt the effects of the virus earlier this year when the state ordered similar restrictions on indoor dining. This round of shutdowns will force Kadlec to layoff some of her workers in order to stay afloat.

"Those who have children or mortgages would be the ones that'd be staffed," said Kadlec. "Everyone else would have a layoff until either they stepped in with another round of PPP or they let us open back up."

The new restrictions will allow restaurants to continue doing takeout and delivery during the time. Kaddy's depends on indoor traffic primarily. Kadlec says she will have to start relying on takeout orders and is exploring the delivery option.

Members of Minnesota's Congressional delegation looked at the financial impact of the governor's plan. 1st Congressional District Rep. Jim Hagedorn was one of three Republican lawmakers who wrote a letter to Walz expressing concern for jobs and the economy. Reps. Tom Emmer and Pete Stauber were the other two.

“Over the last several months, Minnesotans have worked tirelessly to save their businesses, reemploy staff, and restart our economy. Now, Minnesotans are scrambling for their livelihoods once more, even as funds sit idle that should provide them relief and security,” the lawmakers wrote. “As you force Minnesotans to close their businesses, we request that you immediately use the CARES Act money to provide Minnesota’s small businesses financial relief. Small business owners bear the cost of your new restrictions and it is imperative that these funds are used to assist them in their most dire hour.”

Gov. Walz announced an additional $10 million in small business relief grants last week that will help 1,000 businesses that have applied for the state grant program.

“This pandemic is not fair. We need federal support to help keep our businesses afloat, our workers paid, and our families with food on the table. I will continue to fight with every fiber of my being for that support that you need and deserve,” said Governor Walz.

Learn more about the Stay Safe Minnesota plan here.

Stay Safe Minnesota guidance

Mike Beiermeister

WXOW Weekend Anchor and Reporter

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