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Walz announces restaurants, bars to be takeout-only, closure of gyms

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COVID-19 closures
Courtesy: State of Minnesota

ST. PAUL, Minn. (KTTC) -- Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz has announced a series of new COVID-19 restrictions that are set to begin later this week amid a recent surge in cases.

The governor made the announcement in a news release on Wednesday, saying restaurants and bars will need to close for dine-in services beginning Friday at 11:59 p.m., and only delivery and takeout services will be allowed.

Walz said gyms, fitness studios, entertainment venues, event spaces and similar establishments will need to close. In his announcement, Walz also announced that adult and youth sports will be paused.

The Minnesota Department of Health said last week's data showed 600 cases were from bars and restaurants and 7,200 cases were related to sporting events.

Also beginning Friday night, in-person social gatherings with individuals outside of your household will be prohibited.

These restrictions will last through Friday, Dec. 18.

In recent weeks, the state has seen a rapid increase in COVID-19 cases, with thousands of new cases reported each day. Earlier on Wednesday, the Minnesota Department of Health reported a record increase of 67 COVID-19 deaths, surpassing the previous single-day high of 56 COVID-19 deaths reported a week earlier. MDH also reported another 5,102 COVID-19 cases in the state.

“Today marks a somber milestone in the pandemic as we surpass 3,000 Minnesotans lost to COVID-19,” Walz said in a news release. “This immense loss strikes at the heart of our state. We are at a breaking point. As hospitals near the crisis of turning away new patients, continuing as things are is simply not sustainable. The actions announced today will help prevent more families from losing a loved one and ensure our hospitals can treat those who fall ill."

Walz added that while it took 29 weeks to reach 100,000 cases in the state, it only took six weeks after that to reach a total of 200,000 cases. The state is projecting another 100,000 cases will be reported in the next three weeks.

Courtesy: State of Minnesota

According to the news release, retail businesses, salons and places of worship will continue to operate "with proper precautions in place." Childcare will also remain open and schools will continue to operate under the Safe Learning Plan.

“Every day brings us closer to having safe and effective vaccines, but we must take action now to slow down the rate at which COVID-19 is spreading in all corners of our state,” Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said in a news release. “Our health care workers continue to work hard to provide care but we can’t afford to overwhelm them. Every Minnesotan needs to understand that they have a key role to play here.”

Walz said he is confident a vaccine will be available to some in the state by Dec. 18. He is scheduled to speak again on Thursday at 2 p.m.

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