Governor closes restaurants, bars, other public facilities

Stricter regulations announced as Minnesota sees new cases


Maggie Klaers

Art by Maggie Klaers. At a press conference March 16, Governor Tim Walz announced the closure of in-person services for restaurants, bars and other public accommodations beginning 5 p.m. March 17 and until 5 p.m. March 27.

This story is updated as of 6:20 p.m. March 16.

At a press conference March 16, Gov. Tim Walz announced Executive Order 20-04 which closes restaurants, bars and other public accommodations for in-person services between 5 p.m. March 17 and 5 p.m. March 27 in order to prevent further spread of COVID-19. Delivery and curbside pickup options are still allowed.

“We need to stop congregating. We are going to close the bars. We are going to close the restaurants. We’re going to close the places where we gather, and understanding that this is the magnitude of what we are doing is not lost on any of us,” Walz said. 

Walz also announced Executive Order 20-05 which expands support for the unemployed and others disproportionately affected by the pandemic. Steve Grove, Commissioner of Employment and Economic Development, said the order expands access to unemployment insurance for those affected by the new set of closures or the COVID-19 virus itself.

“The state employees that work in the unemployment insurance program at the Department of Employment and Economic Development are working tirelessly to extend our hours to increase to handle increased call volumes and to look for creative ways to handle an influx of applications to that site,” Grove said. “I want to thank those employees for unemployment insurance program. We know you’re working hard. We truly appreciate your hard work.” 

According to Jan Malcolm, Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Health, Minnesota has 54 confirmed cases of COVID-19.

Earlier in the day March 16, President Donald Trump announced further measures to stem the spread of COVID-19, including a recommendation against gatherings of 10 or more individuals, according to The New York Times. At the same press conference March 16, Vice President Mike Pence said it is essential that every American does their part to protect the nation.

“We are calling on every American to do your part, because together we will get through this, and we will find our way forward,” Pence said.

According to Walz, COVID-19 will be felt across the state, but these actions are important to minimize the impact.

“Your leadership in this critical time will not be forgotten. 900,000 students were sent home. Several hundred thousand of your neighbors were just laid off. An entire industry was just shut down in the face of all this for the greater good,” Walz said. “As we bend the curve, and as we keep our neighbors safe I do think it is important, we are getting through this and we are coming out the other end.”

Walz said Minnesota will only get through the pandemic if we unite to defend our communities.

“This is an opportunity for Minnesota to do what we do best. We step up in times of crisis for our neighbors. There are multiple opportunities to be able to volunteer, you’re going to see these things start to step up,” Walz said.