Restaurants and bars in Minnesota will need to close by 10 p.m. beginning Friday, November 13, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz announced today. Additionally, dining rooms are once again limited to 50 percent of their normal seating capacity.
“I feel like the guy in Footloose. No dancing, no fun,” Walz said of the new restrictions. “I’m as frustrated as you are.”
Minnesota’s coronavirus cases have grown exponentially in recent weeks, putting a strain on hospitals and testing facilities. According to Walz, younger people make up a disproportionate share of the new cases — with up to 70 percent being classified as asymptomatic spreaders — and there is reason to believe the spread is tied to bars and restaurants. “After 9:00 pm, when we contact trace, the numbers are doubling,” he said. “People are getting more lax, especially when alcohol is involved.”
Prior to today’s press conference, rumors were swirling that another full shut down was coming for dining establishments. Instead, Walz’s administration said it is working to “surgically” contain the spread by targeting areas with community spread, like bars, that have seen outbreaks. At the end of July, for instance, Minneapolis’ mayor Jacob Frey banned seating directly at bars.
Minnesota restaurants were originally closed, along with many other businesses, on March 17, when the governor mandated a statewide shutdown. In June, restaurants were slowly allowed to reopen at reduced capacity, with the allowed number of diners capped.
In response to the new restrictions, the governor pledged $10 million from a small business grant program to support affected restaurants and bars; the fund should help roughly 1,000 businesses pay their bills. Walz encouraged Minnesotans to continue to spend money at independent restaurants and bars, noting that the Minnesota’s First Lady placed an order for their family Thanksgiving meal from St. Paul-based Colossal Cafe.