Bars, restaurants and gyms shutter under new COVID regulations

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Restaurants, gyms and entertainment venues have been ordered to close through Dec. 18 as the state seeks to stem the spread of COVID-19. Restaurants may still serve meals for takeout. Photo by Zac Farber

As COVID-19 cases continue to rapidly spread across Minnesota, Gov. Tim Walz has ordered a four-week closure for in-person dining and fitness centers that will require restaurants, gyms and entertainment venues to shutter in an attempt to stem the spread of the virus.

“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,” Walz said in an announcement of the executive order, which also calls for a pause on youth and adult sports. People are requested to limit the size of social gatherings ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday.

The order went into effect Nov. 20 and will go through Dec. 18.

Restaurants will be allowed to serve meals for takeout, as in the first statewide shutdown. Unlike the March stay-at-home order, the governor has allowed salons, spas and other retailers to remain open under capacity guidelines. And unlike in March, there is no imminent sign of a federal relief package. While Walz announced a $10 million small business relief grant program in early November, he acknowledged that without more federal aid, the financial impact on workers and small businesses will be great.

“To all Minnesotans who are struggling to get by, I know this pandemic is devastating,” Walz said. “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.”