ST. PAUL -- In order to blunt the spread of the coronavirus, Governor Tim Walz has signed an executive order to temporarily close all bars and restaurants serving dine-in guests in Minnesota, and rolled out plans to help employees affected by the measure.

Speaking to the media in St. Paul Monday evening, Walz said the order takes effect Tuesday at 5:00 p.m. and runs through Friday, March 27 at 5:00 p.m.

The order covers numerous categories of businesses beyond food and beverage service, including bowling alleys, theaters, museums, music venues, fitness centers and community clubs.

The order does not cover convenience stores, grocery stores or pharmacies, Walz said.

“As the cases of COVID-19 in Minnesota continue to climb, we must take decisive action to curb the spread of this pandemic and protect the health and safety of Minnesotans,” said Walz. “This is a challenging time for business owners, employees, children and families alike. We must come together as One Minnesota to care for our neighbors and slow the spread of COVID-19.”

Delivery and curbside takeout services will be allowed, said Walz, but will adhere to firm community mitigation strategies recommended by the Minnesota Department of Health.

Walz also signed a second order Monday, strengthening Minnesota's Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund to provide benefits to workers facing temporary unemployment. Walz said the order will waive the employer surcharge and allow the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development to pay unemployment benefits immediately, providing fast relief to employees who need it.

It will be the "single largest unemployment request in Minnesota history," said Walz.

"I think the magnitude is starting to come home," Walz said. "Several hundred thousand of your neighbors were just laid off. An entire industry as been shut down in the face of this - all for the greater good."

“We’ve strengthened the state’s unemployment insurance program to expedite an increase in applicants looking for support," said Steve Grove, DEED Commissioner. "We’ll stand by employers who may need new resources in this evolving economic climate.”

Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said certain public spaces, including libraries, will remain open, but will enforce strict social distancing practices. A handful of libraries, including Great River Regional Library based in St. Cloud, have closed completely in order to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

Minnesota Department of Health officials reported 54 cases of COVID-19 in 11 Minnesota counties Monday, with Benton County reporting its first case. Three cases of community spread have been identified.


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