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Walz to close bars, restaurants, fitness centers for 4 weeks

Gov. Tim Walz has ordered a four-week shutdown of bars, restaurants, entertainment venues and fitness clubs, starting Friday, to slow the COVID-19 pandemic that has caused more than 3,000 deaths in Minnesota and threatens to overwhelm hospital capacity.

The governor on Wednesday also ordered a pause on amateur sports and limited social gatherings to individual households — down from a cap imposed last week of 10 people from three households.

While Minnesotans are weary of the pandemic, and endured a broader 51-day state shutdown last spring, Walz said this latest order could keep more Minnesotans healthy and more hospital beds available until a vaccine becomes available.

“I know that hospitalizations are going to continue to go up for the next few weeks and I know that the death numbers will continue to go up for the next few weeks,” Walz said. “But the bright spot of this is, the moves we take now will start to bend that at just the time when the potential for a vaccine is coming. That’s what’s different, Minnesota, this time.”

Walz attempted a targeted response last week by restricting the sizes of wedding and funeral receptions and ordering bars and restaurants to close everything but takeout service by 10 p.m. The goal was to focus on group gathering locations where large outbreaks have occurred, but Walz and state Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said rapid changes in the pandemic forced broader action.

“Two weeks ago, I thought a 5,000-case day was horrific,” Malcolm said. “Now, that looks like a good day.”

In the eight days since that last order, Minnesota saw roughly 52,000 more lab-confirmed infections and 312 more deaths — bringing the state’s totals to 242,043 infections and 3,010 deaths. The 1,706 COVID-19 hospitalizations in Minnesota on Wednesday represented a 31% increase.

Walz’s four-week order also applies to movie theaters, bowling alleys and museums. The Minneapolis Institute of Art and Walker Art Center, which had reopened to limited audiences in mid-July, will close Saturday; Mia said it would open no earlier than Jan. 2.

Retail outlets are unaffected, along with salons, as Walz said state contact tracing has found little evidence that they are responsible for large outbreaks. Religious ceremonies also are unaffected along with weddings and funerals themselves, but celebrations and receptions are subject to the shutdown. And while bars and restaurants will be closed to in-person service, they can still provide takeout, drive-through and delivery service. Only five customers will be allowed inside an establishment at any one time to pick up orders.

Walz and health officials chose four weeks because that reflects two infection cycles with the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 — given its incubation period of up to 14 days. If people comply, Malcolm said the measures should level off the state infection rate and the positivity rate of diagnostic testing. Right now, 15.3% of tests turn up positive.

Walz said “the data will drive our decision” whether to end the restrictions at four weeks or extend them. Minnesota

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Walz to temporarily close bars, restaurants and fitness centers as COVID-19 cases surge

Gov. Tim Walz will impose new restrictions on bars, restaurants and fitness centers starting Friday, closing them down to the public four weeks as COVID-19 cases surge across the state.

Bars and restaurants will still be allowed to offer takeout services during that time, according to a source with knowledge of the restrictions. The new restrictions will also include a temporary pause on youth sports activities.

Walz will deliver an address to Minnesotans at 6 p.m. Wednesday to discuss the latest steps in his response to COVID-19.

The restrictions come days after the governor implemented a 10 p.m. curfew for bars and restaurants and put restrictions on bar seating and games.

But Minnesota health officials have warned the state is heading to a dangerous phase of the pandemic. On Tuesday, the state reported 26 new COVID-19 deaths and 5,945 new coronavirus infections, with 1,669 people with COVID-19 occupying inpatients beds in Minnesota and 346 needing intensive care — a record number of hospitalizations.

Republicans in the Legislature are asking Walz to announce the new restrictions immediately to help restaurants and bars plan for the changes.

“Minnesotans recognize how grave the situation is with COVID-19 spreading uncontrolled throughout the state,” said Rep. Dave Baker, R-Willmar. “We’re ready to do our part for our health care workers, no matter how difficult the coming weeks will be, and prevent a capacity crisis for our hospitals and health care facilities. But we need to do this together with transparency.”

Briana Bierschbach • 612-673-4689

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©2020 the Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

Visit the Star Tribune (Minneapolis) at www.startribune.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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Walz to close bars, restaurants and fitness centers for 4 weeks

Gov. Tim Walz will impose new restrictions on bars, restaurants and fitness centers starting Friday, closing them down to the public for four weeks as COVID-19 cases surge across the state.

Bars and restaurants will still be allowed to offer takeout services during that time, according to a source with knowledge of the restrictions. The new restrictions will also include a temporary pause on youth sports.

Walz will deliver an address to Minnesotans at 6 p.m. Wednesday to discuss the latest steps in his response to COVID-19.

The closures come days after the governor implemented a 10 p.m. curfew for bars and restaurants and put restrictions on bar seating and games.

But Minnesota health officials have warned the state is heading to a dangerous phase of the pandemic. On Tuesday, the state reported 26 new COVID-19 deaths and 5,945 new coronavirus infections, with 1,669 people with COVID-19 occupying inpatients beds in Minnesota and 346 needing intensive care — a record number of hospitalizations.

Republicans in the Legislature are asking Walz to announce the new restrictions immediately to help restaurants and bars plan for the changes.

“Minnesotans recognize how grave the situation is with COVID-19 spreading uncontrolled throughout the state,” said Rep. Dave Baker, R-Willmar. “We’re ready to do our part for our health care workers, no matter how difficult the coming weeks will be, and prevent a capacity crisis for our hospitals and health care facilities. But we need to do this together with transparency.”

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Austria orders curfew and shuts restaurants to fight ‘exploding’ COVID

By Francois Murphy

VIENNA (Reuters) – Austria on Saturday announced a nighttime curfew and the closure of cafes, bars and restaurants to all but take-away service as a surge in coronavirus infections threatens to overwhelm its hospitals.

The Alpine country had a swift and effective lockdown during its first wave of infections in March but had held off similar action this month to help the economy, even as daily cases rose to several times the spring peak.

With daily infections at a record 5,627 on Friday, however – just short of the 6,000 level at which the government says hospitals will no longer cope – the conservative-led government was forced to act.

“We did not take this decision lightly but it is necessary,” Chancellor Sebastian Kurz told a news conference. The restrictions include an 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew and will be in effect from Tuesday until the end of November.

Factories, shops, kindergartens and primary schools will remain open, however, while secondary schools and universities will switch to distance learning. Exercise or walks will still be allowed after curfew.

Restaurants, bars and cafes may provide a take-away service only; theatres and museums will shut, as will indoor sports facilities such as gyms; hotels will close to all but a few guests such as business travellers.

Businesses forced to close will receive aid amounting to 80% of their sales a year earlier.

NUMBERS ‘EXPLODING’

In the past two weeks, Austria had about as many cases as Britain or Italy, relative to its population, data from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) shows. And there has been a rapid acceleration over the past week, with a 26% jump from Thursday to Friday.

“A barely controllable increase has begun,” Health Minister Rudolf Anschober told the news conference, adding that infections were “de facto exploding”.

Austria’s measures closely resemble those being taken by neighbouring Germany, which has less than half its infection rate, according to the ECDC data.

Austria has already limited private indoor gatherings to six people and it is now adding a rule that no more than two households can meet.

“We can’t say how strongly the population will support these measures and how strong their effect will be,” Kurz said, adding that he aimed to start easing the restrictions gradually in December.

(Reporting by Francois Murphy; Editing by Angus MacSwan and Ros Russell)

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Rand Paul suggests restaurants should hire COVID-19 survivors as servers during pandemic

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said he would like restaurants hire more staff that have previously contracted the coronavirus, according to The Daily Beast.



Rand Paul wearing a suit and tie: Rand Paul suggests restaurants should hire COVID-19 survivors as servers during pandemic


© Greg Nash
Rand Paul suggests restaurants should hire COVID-19 survivors as servers during pandemic

During a rally for Nick Freitas, a Republican candidate for Congress, in Central Virginia on Sunday, Paul suggested to a crowd that he would make the call himself if he had a restaurant.

“If I owned a restaurant, I’d have a whole wing for senior citizens or for anybody who is worried about getting sick, and I would say, ‘All my servers have already had it,'” Paul told the crowd, according to The Daily Beast. “If I had a cruise ship … everybody would have had the infection that works on the boat.”

Paul also referred to his previous coronavirus diagnosis during the rally, saying that once you’ve had COVID-19, you are immune.

“I’ve had it. I can’t get it again,” Paul said, according to The Daily Beast. “I can’t give it to you, and I can’t get it.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released guidance contradicting Paul’s stance. People are not immune to reinfection after recovering from the coronavirus, according to the CDC.

Paul contracted COVID-19 in March. He has publicly maintained that those who have had the virus do not need a face mask.

“I’m not telling you not to wear a mask,” Paul reiterated at the rally, according to The Daily Beast. “The cloth masks … I’m just telling you the truth, they don’t work. Ninety-seven percent of viruses go through a cloth mask.”

The CDC released guidance in August that stated wearing a mask is more sure to protect against the coronavirus than taking a vaccine.

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Advocates, restaurants call for extension of meals program

BERLIN, Vt. (AP) — Advocates for a program that uses federal coronavirus relief money to distribute free restaurant-made meals intended for people in need during the pandemic and to help those eateries stay afloat are calling for the program to be funded past mid-December.

The statewide Everyone Eats program offers restaurants financial support to cook healthy meals for the community, said Sue Minter, executive director of Capstone Community Action on Thursday.

In three months, $1.5 million has been allocated to the industry, allowing over 100 restaurants to prepare 150,000 meals distributed around the state — but the funding ends in December, she said at a press event at Central Vermont Medical Center, where 200 meals are given out weekly.


“Seven months into the pandemic hunger in Vermont is increasing,” Minter said. “And the impact of unemployment and the unfolding economic disruption is intensifying. And Vermonters are rising to the challenge together.”

One in four Vermonters now face food insecurity, compared to one in 10 before March, she said.

The pandemic has also had a dramatic impact on the state’s hospitality industry, particularly restaurants, which are now “on life support,” she said.

Cornerstone Pub & Kitchen, in Barre, provides 200 free meals each Thursday through the program, said owner Rich McSheffrey.

“I can’t stress enough the significance of it, I can’t stress enough the impact of it, and I definitely will say that if this program has any possibility of extending then it’s definitely in the best interest,” he said.

He believes ending the program in the winter is senseless, he said.

“It seems very stressful to me to think that so many people with food insecurities and so many people that are hungry are going to have a program stopped in Vermont in the winter,” he said.

In other developments related to the coronavirus on Thursday:

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UTILITY BILLS

Less than half of an $8 million COVID-19 pandemic relief program for people and small businesses behind on their utility bills has been used, and the state is encouraging those eligible to apply.

The Vermont COVID-19 Arrearage Assistance Program can help with past-due bills to keep the lights on, water flowing, and heat running as winter approaches.

“We only have six weeks left to essentially spend the full $8 million,” Riley Allen, deputy commissioner of the Vermont Department of Public Service told MyChamplainValley.com on Wednesday.

Allen estimates that the total amount of unpaid bills in the state is much larger than what’s been awarded so far, the station reported.

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COLLEGE CASES

St. Michael’s College in Colchester is going to all remote classes after six positive cases of the coronavirus were detected in the latest round of surveillance testing. All the cases were asymptomatic.

In a message posted Thursday on the college’s website, college President Lorraine Sterritt said that, out of an abundance of caution, the school would move to all-remote classes and all in-person activities are suspended through the weekend. Dining will be takeout-only.

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THE NUMBERS

Vermont reported 15

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Belgium imposes Covid curfew, closes bars and restaurants

BRUSSELS (AP) — Faced with a resurgence of coronavirus cases, the Belgian government on Friday announced new restrictions to try to hold the disease in check, including a night-time curfew and the closure of cafes, bars and restaurants for a month.

The measures are set to enter force from Monday. The curfew will be enforced from midnight until 5:00 a.m. Alcohol sales will be banned after 8:00 p.m. The number of people that Belgians should see socially outside family members will be reduced from three to a maximum of just one — all month.

People have been ordered to work from home wherever possible.


Belgium, which has a population of around 11.5 million, is one of the European countries hardest hit by the disease. Almost 6,000 new cases were recorded each day on average over the last week. In all, about 192,000 people have contracted the disease and 10,327 have died.

“The number of confirmed cases is rising, every day, and not just by a few percentage points,” Prime Minister Alexander De Croo told reporters in Brussels as he unveiled the new restrictions. “We can see that our hospitals and medical services are under tremendous pressure.”

“Thirty-five people died yesterday from the effects of COVID-19,” De Croo said, and he warned that the number of cases is likely to keep rising this week and next. “In the days to come, the news will be bad,” he said.

The country’s finance and employment ministries will launch a support plan to help keep restaurants and cafes afloat. They’ve been struggling to get back on their feet in recent months due to the impact of the virus. Earlier this month, bars and cafes in the capital Brussels were ordered to close early.

The impact of the closures will be reviewed in two weeks.

Yves Van Laethem, a spokesman for Belgium’s COVID-19 crisis center, said earlier Friday that “new measures are needed, because we see all the figures, all the data, mounting and all the indicators … remain in the red.”

Almost 2,000 people are currently in hospital due to the virus, more than 300 of them in intensive care. Around 180 are being admitted every day, on average.

Van Laethem urged people not to hit bars and night spots or gather in large groups for a final party.

He warned of the impact of such acts after Belgium first went into confinement in mid-March, saying that “this kind of behavior led to the infection spreading and quite a few people found themselves in hospital. So, please, avoid this kind of stupid behavior.”

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Follow AP pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

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