Minnesota’s Governor Walz announced the closure of all restaurants, bars and other gathering spaces like museums and theaters, noting the financial strain this is likely to place on “hundreds of thousands” of workers.
“Today I am issuing executive emergency order 20-03* that would place partials closures of restaurants, bars and establishments serving food and drink for dining services as well as places of public accommodation and amusement during [this] COVID-19 peacetime emergency,” the governor declared at a press conference, Monday afternoon. The closures will take effect 5pm on March 17, and last until 5pm on March 27.
“This is our new normal,” he noted, warning Minnesotans that the coronavirus pandemic and associated closures and changes of lifestyle may carry on for a significant amount of time.
“I would forecast for the press that this is more than likely a rhythm we may get into,” he added.
“I want to be very clear, we are at a critical point here. If we get beyond that curve where the spread accelerates to that point where our hospitals can’t keep up… it becomes a really critical situation… I’m going to ask once again we need folks cooperation,” the governor said.
Walz also announced a “second executive order we’re issuing today that will strengthen Minnesota unemployment insurance trust fund and ensure establishments affected by this order [the closure order] will have benefits available.”
The Governor also predicted that once restaurants, bars and similar business close, the state will witness “the single largest request of unemployment insurance in Minnesota’s history… we understand the sense of urgency around this, I ask Minnesotans to bear with us,” he said.
He then spoke candidly to those who are about to find themselves unemployed: “it [the benefits] will not make you whole, but our intention is to try and make sure that it [the closures] does it destroy your family or the well being that you have.”
Just hours before his press conference to announce the new closures, Walz’s office published a press release telling Minnesotans to brace for a recession, as predicted by Minnesota’s macroeconomic consultant, IHS.
“Deteriorating economic conditions caused by COVID-19 will stress Minnesota’s economy,” the release said. It also included a statement from Walz admitting that his office has not yet developed a plan regarding how the state will remedy its pandemic induced financial problems.
Minnesota has confirmed 53 cases of COVID-19, as of Monday, according to the KTSP News. The state has also begun witnessing community transmission, meaning that several individuals who have contracted the virus report no recent history of travel or known contact with virus carriers.
*Note: The governor misspoke when referring to his new executive order as “20-03.” It is actually 20-04. This is not a typographical error.