ST. PAUL – Minnesota Governor Tim Walz Wednesday announced a four-week pause on social activities, in-person dining, sporting events, and fitness centers amid surging COVID-19 infection and hospitalization rates across the state.

Speaking via video from his home, Walz announced a host of virus-stemming restrictions to take effect Friday, including:

  • Bars and restaurants limited to only take-out and delivery service
  • Gyms and fitness clubs and indoor entertainment venues closed
  • In-person social gatherings outside of a person’s household prohibited
  • Wedding receptions, parties and other social gatherings paused.

Adult and youth sports will also be paused under the order.

Retail shops, salons, and churches will be allowed to stay open with proper safety precautions in place. Childcare providers and daycares will be allowed to remain open. Schools will continue to operate and shift between in-person, distance, and hybrid learning depending on the spread of the virus in specific locations.

 "It’s not easy, and it’s not fair,” Walz said. “But it’s a sacrifice we need to make. If we don’t do that, and we continue this spread, we will, with absolute certainty, put our hospitals at risk, and those that need the care and the care providers.”

The Governor’s announcement arrives as positive cases of COVID-19, hospitalizations and deaths continue to mount across the state, with the Minnesota Department of Health identifying just over new 5,000 cases of the virus. The number of patients hospitalized with the virus has grown by more than 30 percent in the last week, pushing medical centers to their capacity and staffing limits and prompting the Minnesota Medical Association and regional health systems to plead with state officials to take swift action.

“For those of you who are worried financially, I hear you,” said Walz. “This is incredibly painful and incredibly challenging. But this is different than the spring. We have better therapeutics, we are better prepared for it, and we have the capacity for it if we help our hospital systems not be overwhelmed, to make sure everyone gets that care and reduces the death rate.”

The restrictions will remain in place through Friday, December 18. Walz says an extension is possible.