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Gov. Tim Walz issues order to stop dining inside bars, restaurants to slow COVID-19 spread

Governor Tim Walz is ordering restaurants and bars to stop indoor dining. Drive-thru and takeout will remain available.

MINNEAPOLIS — State and city officials in Minnesota are taking additional measures to limit the spread of coronavirus, including limiting public gathering.

Governor Tim Walz is ordering restaurants and bars to stop indoor dining. Drive-thru and takeout will remain available.

The governor's order goes into effect at 5 p.m. Tuesday and is expected to remain in place until March 27.

The new order is recommended for virtually every commercial public accommodation -- bowling alley, museum, theater, fitness center, community club -- any place people tend to congregate.

Online ordering and pickup is highly encouraged by state officials over in-person pickup.

The Minnesota Department of Health says restaurants should encourage "contactless" delivery allowing no face-to-face contact between delivery personnel and customers.

MDH is recommending grocery stores, pharmacies, hardware stores, and retail stores with these services to remain open.

MDH is recommending non-essential retail outlets close, with the exception of those that choose to remain open on a limited basis to fill online or phone orders for pickup or delivery.

If your job is affected by the closures, you are likely eligible for unemployment benefits. You can apply at http://uimn.org.

MDH is recommending public buildings remain open, so long as they can maintain social distancing of at least 6 feet between persons.

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey declared a local public health emergency on Monday, and announced that he will be limiting bars and restaurants in an effort to combat community transmission of COVID-19.

The Minnesota Department of Health has confirmed community transmission of the virus and said that people should assume it is "circulating broadly."

Frey had already announced that water shutoffs will be suspended in Minneapolis for the next month. On Monday, he asked Hennepin County Sheriff David Hutchinson to suspend enforcing evictions. He also announced that he is closing or limiting access to bars, restaurants, nightclubs and coffee shops in the city. They will be limited to delivery, takeout and drive-thru orders beginning at noon on Tuesday, March 17.

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Frey said he will be in close communication with state leadership during this process. 

“Clarity in purpose and the ability to act decisively are vital in protecting public health and effectively responding to the evolving threats posed by COVID-19,” Frey said in a statement on Monday. “Our team will remain in constant communication with leadership in city hall and partners throughout Minnesota while we work to promote mitigation strategies, deliver core city services, and deploy resources where they are needed most.” 

Frey's emergency declaration must be voted on by the Minneapolis City Council within 72 hours.

In accordance with revised guidance from the CDC, Minneapolis will also halt issuance of new permits for any gatherings of 50 or more people.

More information on the coronavirus: 

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The state of Minnesota has set up a hotline for general questions about coronavirus at 651-201-3920 or 1-800-657-3903, available 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.