Walz Makes ‘Cautious’ Adjustments to Business Restrictions
Gov. Walz visiting a Bemidji water plant in late October. Gov. Tim Walz on Facebook

Walz Makes ‘Cautious’ Adjustments to Business Restrictions

Bars and restaurants will be able to welcome up to 250 guests starting on Saturday at noon. GOP state legislators say they’ve been kept in the dark about the governor’s plans.
Gov. Walz visiting a Bemidji water plant in late October. Gov. Tim Walz on Facebook

An improving Covid-19 picture is prompting Gov. Tim Walz to roll back some restrictions on businesses.

On Friday, the governor announced a new executive order that slightly increases capacity limits in bars, restaurants, gyms, and indoor entertainment venues.

Beginning at noon on Saturday, bars and restaurants will be able to welcome up to 250 guests at a time, up from the governor’s previous limit at 150. But capacity is still capped at 50 percent. Eateries also will be able to stay open until 11 p.m. Under an earlier executive order, bars and restaurants had to close at 10 p.m.

Indoor entertainment venues — such as bowling alleys and skating rinks — will also be able to host up to 250 guests at a time, though their capacity will be capped at 25 percent.

The governor’s latest executive order allows private gatherings like weddings to resume with up to 50 people. The new order also removes restrictions on the number of households that can gather indoors; a previous order capped private indoor gatherings to 10 people and two households.

In a news release, Walz called the changes “cautious, commonsense adjustments.”

Republican lawmakers in Minnesota welcomed the news, but said that they’ve been kept in the dark about the governor’s decisions. In a statement, GOP members of the Minnesota House said Walz’s rollbacks don’t go far enough.

“While it’s good to see the restrictions eased, the governor should be going further — it doesn’t make sense to keep a 50 person cap on wedding venues when restaurants are allowed to be operating at 50 percent capacity,” said Rep. John Poston, R-Lake Shore, in the statement. “I know these businesses will keep doing great work keeping guests and staff safe, and I hope there’s further dial-backs in the works as case rates fall and vaccination rates increase.”

Poston went on to say there’s a “total disconnect” between the governor and legislators.

“The governor’s total lack of engagement and communication leaves lawmakers with no answers when our constituents call distraught and desperate for information about the executive orders,” he added.

In Minnesota, Covid-19 cases have been dropping steadily from a recent peak in early January. On Jan. 4, the state reported 2,644 new cases of the disease. On Wednesday, Feb. 10, that number was just 410. The state has been slowly vaccinating residents, too: As of Wednesday, about 11 percent of residents had received one shot of the vaccine, and about 3.4 percent have received both shots.