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Walz threatens to re-close bars and restaurants

  • Updated
Governor Tim Walz

(St. Paul MN-) Governor Tim Walz says if Minnesota bars are going to stay open, and if bar patrons want to be able to go to the bars, something’s gonna have to change. Walz and Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm Monday said as the number of confirmed coronavirus cases associated with bar-going has shot into the hundreds while reports come from throughout the state of establishments and patrons ignoring state restrictions that have the force of law. At a news conference, Walz said “At some point in time, the carrot turns to the stick to stop this type of thing,” He and Malcolm said revocation of a bar’s business license is an option, as is reclosing bars statewide.

And Walz said he’s weighing some sort of statewide mask requirement. “Everything’s on the table,” he said.

The news also comes as governors across the nation reimpose restrictions on bars and restaurants. On Monday, Arizona joined the ranks of Texas, California and Florida in closing some or all bars or restaurants — reopening reversals all sparked by surges in cases emanating from young bar-hoppers.

In Minnesota, Walz’s orders treat bars and restaurants the same: neither is supposed to look or feel like a traditional bar. Even at 50 percent occupancy, everyone is supposed to be seated — no standing bar service — and groups are supposed to be 6 feet apart from other groups. Employees are required to wear masks, and patrons are strongly urged to do so as well. Also, reservations are required.

Frequently, some or all of those haven’t been followed, officials acknowledged Monday as the number of positive tests from people who visited crowded bars in Minneapolis and Mankato grew.

Malcolm said that as of Monday morning, “about 200 cases” were associated with two bars in Mankato and “another 100” were associated with two bars in Minneapolis. She emphasized that while some of those counts could include double-counting of people who hit both bars, “