Gov. Walz Expected to Force Tighter COVID Restrictions on Sports, Dining, Gyms — Again
The Governor is expected to announce new restrictions on bars, restaurants, sports, gyms, and social gatherings Wednesday Evening.
ST. PAUL, Minn.- Governor Tim Walz is preparing to announce sweeping new COVID-19 restrictions during a statewide televised speech Wednesday night –as the amount of Minnesotans defying the rules he said, is hampering the state’s fight against the virus and pushing hospitals to the brink.
According to a spokesperson with the Governor Tuesday, those new limits will involve bars, restaurants, fitness centers, social gatherings, and even the stoppage of youth and high school sports.
“If we get the compliance around social distancing, masking, and we shut down some of those vectors of spread for a short time that we can hold it before it reaches that, the point where we’re at crisis,” said Walz in a teleconference Tuesday.
On that call, the Governor invited people across the state who either contracted coronavirus or had family who were infected to share their experiences to try to hammer home just how bad it is.
“We think about the things we’ve lost, the things we want to to do whether it’s go out to eat or gather to watch a football game, it’s critically important to think about those Minnesotans who have lost so much more,” he said.
One of those impacted, Sara Winston, described watching her daughter fight COVID — a battle that landed her in intensive care. “The most of it that sent her in was really a 104.5 fever and she ended up with heart failure, liver distress, kidney failure, her body was literally shutting down.”
“There was a point when both my daughter Ella and I thought she wasn’t going to make it,” said Winston.
Hearing these voices was how Walz laid the groundwork for those new restrictions.
They will come just one week after he imposed a 50-person limit on weddings and funerals starting Nov. 27 and going to 25 in December, a 10-person limit for indoor and outdoor gatherings, and a bar and restaurant limit of 150 people not exceeding 50% capacity with a 10 p.m. closing time.
But he said the next few weeks are crucial, as healthcare systems statewide come dangerously close to being overwhelmed.
“The difference will be, whether it goes from challenging to crisis, will be on the behavior we exhibit over the next basically 2-4 weeks,” Gov. Walz said.
The most talked-about change Tuesday involved pausing upcoming high school winter and ongoing fall sports, as state health leaders said they account for about 10% of total cases in Minnesota schools.
But Winston, her children all athletes, opposed the stoppage of sports. “That means so much to their mental stability.”
“I think there’s a way to do it safely for our kids. Obviously we need to be taking precautions, but I don’t think that means that it needs to be cut off,” she said.
But the Governor was adamant that it was necessary. “It is a terrible weigh on the well being and mental health for our children but the fact of the matter is the virus cares about none of those things we do.”
Across the state different groups and individuals of students and parents have voiced their concern about the potential restrictions, many arguing sporting events aren’t hotspots and that it will hurt more than help youth.
Walz referenced how asymptomatic carriers of COVID-19 can infect larger numbers at sporting events, speeding up its travel all the way to health care workers. “It’s the community spread.”
“This extends to the 5.7 million Minnesotans and while it’s hard for some of us to wrap our minds around, a whole bunch of people do not have kids in youth sports, but the interconnection of those things start to bring those into that,” said Gov. Walz.
He said while he acknowledges the big ask ahead Wednesday, the data is in — the dial needs to turn back.
“We’re doing it based on data, we’re doing it based on science,” Gov. Walz said, “and I’m going to need Minnesotans’ help on this.”
We will be streaming the Governor’s Wednesday night announcement online and on FOX 21’s Facebook Page.