Governor Walz held a press conference Monday afternoon to order restaurants, bars, and other places of public amusement to close in order to slow the spread of COVID-19.

The Governor thanked everyone for their patience and understanding during these difficult times. Walz said, "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. That’s why I’m ordering a partial closure of restaurants, bars and places of public accommodation and amusement, such as fitness centers and movie theaters, by 5 p.m. tomorrow. I also signed an Executive Order to ensure workers affected by these closures have the support they need."

Take-out services will still be available at this time and grocery stores and pharmacies will remain open as normal. The executive order reads as follows:

1. Beginning no later than March 17, 2020, at 5:00 pm, and continuing until March 27, 2020, at 5:00 pm, the following places of public accommodation are closed to ingress, egress, use, and occupancy by members of the public:

a. Restaurants, food courts, cafes, coffeehouses, and other places offering food or beverage for on-premises consumption. This excludes institutional and in-house food cafeterias for businesses, hospitals, and long-term care facilities;

b. Bars, taverns, brew pubs, breweries, microbreweries, distilleries, wineries, tasting rooms, clubs, and other places that offer alcoholic beverages for on-premises consumption;

c. Hookah bars, cigar bars, and vaping lounges offering their products for on-premises consumption;

d. Theaters, cinemas, museums, and indoor and outdoor performance venues;

e. Gymnasiums, fitness centers, recreation centers, indoors sports facilities, indoor exercise facilities, exercise studios, and spas;

f. Places of public amusement, including amusement parks, arcades, bingo halls, bowling alleys, indoor climbing facilities, skating rinks, trampoline parks, and other similar recreational or entertainment facilities;

g. facilities of country clubs, golf clubs, boating or yacht clubs, sports or athletic clubs, and dining clubs.

2. Places of public accommodation subject to this Executive Order are encouraged to offer food and beverage using delivery service, window service, walk-up service, drive-through service, or drive-up service, and to use precautions in doing so to mitigate the potential transmission of COVID-19, including social distancing. In offering food or beverage, a place of public accommodation subject to this section may permit up to five members of the public at one time in the place of public accommodation for the purpose of picking up their food or beverage orders, so long as those individuals are at least six feet apart from one another while on premises.

3. This Executive Order does not prohibit an employee, contractor, vendor, or supplier of a place of public accommodation from entering, exiting, using, or occupying that place of public accommodation in their professional capacity.

4. The restrictions imposed by this Executive Order do not apply to any of the following:

a. Places of public accommodation that offer food and beverage not for onpremises consumption, including grocery stores, markets, convenience stores, pharmacies, drug stores, and food pantries, other than those portions of the place of public accommodation subject to the requirements of section 1;

b. Health care facilities, child care facilities, residential care facilities, congregate care facilities, and juvenile justice facilities;

c. Crisis shelters, soup kitchens, or similar institutions; and

d. Restaurants and food courts inside the secured zones of airports.

5. For purposes of this Executive Order, "place of public accommodation" means a business, or an educational, refreshment, entertainment, or recreation facility, or an institution of any kind, whether licensed or not, whose goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations are extended, offered, sold, or otherwise made available to the public.

6. This Executive Order does not alter any of the obligations under law of an employer affected by this Executive Order to its employees or to the employees of another employer.

7. Pursuant to Minnesota Statutes 2019, section 12.45, a person who willfully violates paragraphs 1 of this Executive Order is guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction must be punished by a fine not to exceed $1,000, or by imprisonment for not more than 90 days.

8. Local law enforcement and public health authorities are directed to monitor and enforce this Executive Order in accordance with the law

9. The prohibitions set forth in paragraph 1 may be extended by a future Executive Order and with approval of the Executive Council.

Pursuant to Minnesota Statutes 2019, section 4.035, subdivision 2, and section 12.32, this Executive Order is effective immediately upon approval by the Executive Council. It remains in effect until the peacetime emergency declared in Executive Order 20-01 is terminated or until it is rescinded by proper authority.

A determination that any provision of this Executive Order is invalid will not affect the enforceability of any other provision of this Executive Order. Rather, the invalid provision will be modified to the extent necessary so that it is enforceable.

California, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana,Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Washington have already taken similar steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Get more information on how COVID-19 is impacting life in Southeast Minnesota here.

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