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Minneapolis bars, restaurants 'closing or limiting access' under state of emergency

Jacob Frey's emergency order will stay in place as long as a statewide emergency is in effect.

Jacob Frey's emergency order will stay in place as long as a statewide emergency is in effect. Tom Wallace, Star Tribune

Prepare for the quietest St. Patrick's Day in living memory.

Honestly? Don't expect to hear much for the rest of March.

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey on Monday declared a state of emergency that will force bars, restaurants, and coffee shops to close or cut back effective noon on Tuesday, March 17. Beyond that, only "delivery, takeout, and drive thru orders" are allowed. 

The citywide order will remain in effect as long as the state of Minnesota is under a state of emergency. Gov. Tim Walz made that declaration by executive order on Friday, reserving the right to make "orders and rules to protect public health and safety." 

UPDATE: On Monday evening, Walz expanded the restaurant shutdown to all of Minnesota via another executive order, one calling COVID-19 "an unprecedented challenge" to the state. Walz's order goes into effect at 5 p.m. March 17, and extends through March 27. All restaurants, cafes, bars, breweries, coffeehouses, and distilleries are included. Walz's order also closes theaters, performance venues, museums, gyms, bowling alleys, arcades, country clubs... basically, if it brought you joy, cost money, and other people were there, assume it's closed or restricted starting tomorrow evening. As in Minneapolis, dining establishments are encouraged to switch to "delivery service, window service, walk-up service, drive-through service, or drive-up service," with "up to five members of the public at one time," provided they stay "at least six feet apart from one another." Read the rest of our original story below.

As of Monday, four states (California, Illinois, Ohio, and Massachusetts) had imposed similar restrictions, as had New York City, as public health officials nationwide acknowledge the risks of large groups of people passing things around, bringing them to their faces, then handing them back.

So far, St. Paul isn't one of them: The declaration issued by Mayor Melvin Carter Sunday closed municipal spaces like libraries and parks, but didn't affect privately owned businesses. Like Frey, Carter said the city would not issue permits for events expecting 50 or more people.

Frey's declaration is subject to a vote by the Minneapolis City Council, which must approve it within 72 hours. Council President Lisa Bender said in a statement the council would vote on Thursday, and that she supports the declaration.

"This is an extraordinary time," Bender said. "And it will take collaboration, commitment, resilience and creativity from all of us working together to support the health and well-being of city employees, residents, visitors and businesses in Minneapolis."

Minnesota has 54 confirmed cases of coronavirus as of Monday, more than 20 of which were found in Hennepin County, according to the state Department of Health's daily briefing. 

We'll update this post with more information as it becomes available. Read the rest of City Pages' coronavirus coverage here.