Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz Wednesday afternoon will announce a series of new coronavirus restrictions.
They will take effect Friday night, when current restrictions are set to expire. Most will last through mid-January.
Here’s a quick summary according to multiple sources briefed on the matter and a statement early Wednesday afternoon from the governor’s office:
Walz will loosen current state guidance, allowing nearly all public elementary schools to re-open to in-person learning beginning Jan. 4, with certain restrictions. A rolling start until Jan. 18 is envisioned. He won’t mandate that they open, however, and it remains unclear which districts will in fact open.
It’s unclear how guidance might change for junior high and high school students, but parents should not expect major changes there. Most such students are currently in distance learning.
Data is increasingly showing that children younger than 10 do not infect others at anywhere near the rates older children and adults do.
Students will not have to stay 6 feet apart, but staff will.
Class sizes can be normal size.
Teachers will be tested every other week and be required to wear not only masks but face shields as well.
Families can still choose distance learning.
BARS AND RESTAURANTS
Bars and restaurants will remain closed to indoor, in-person service.
However, outdoor in-person service will be allowed with restrictions, including: no more than four people per table, all seated, and tables at least 6 feet apart.
The idea behind this isn’t to allow white-linen dining in a Minnesota winter, but rather for beer gardens and the like to operate for the hardy with heat lamps. Walz’s order will define what is meant by “outdoor.”
YOUTH SPORTS AND RECREATION
Youth and adult amateur competitive sports practices will be allowed to resume, with restrictions, on Jan. 4, but not games. The problem with games, officials believe, is parents spectating and socializing.
Outdoor recreation, including ski lessons, will be allowed only in groups of no more than three separate households, plus an instructor.
Organized sports will no longer be tied to county COVID cases or school guidelines.
HEALTH CLUBS, GYMS AND POOLS
Health clubs will be allowed to reopen with new restrictions, including: 25 percent capacity, 100-people maximum, 12-foot distancing and masks required at all times.
Showers and pools will be closed. Locker rooms can be open with 6 feet of distancing required.
Because of the heavy breathing — and thus heavy germ intake and expelling — during workouts, indoor exercise requires extra precautions, health experts say.
Indoor social gatherings “are not recommended,” according to the new orders, but will be allowed for groups no larger than 10 people from no more than two households.
Outdoor social gathering will be restricted to three households and 15 people.
Watch: Gov. Walz announcement on MN’s COVID restrictions at 1:15 p.m.
Outdoor entertainment venues will be allowed to open at 25 percent capacity up to a maximum of 100 people.
If food or drinks are served, everyone will have to be seated.
This is not a complete list of the restrictions. Full details won’t be available until 1:15 p.m., when Walz will announce the changes live via his YouTube channel.
Health officials and experts emphasize that regardless of the letter of any government orders, everyone should take care to avoid sharing germs with people outside your household. With the coronavirus, that includes what infectious disease expert Mike Osterholm of the University of Minnesota calls “swapping air.”
This story will be updated we confirm more information.
Watch live: Gov. Walz announcement on MN’s COVID restrictions at 1:15 p.m.
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