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St. Paul, MN (KROC-AM NEWS) As expected, Governor Tim Walz today "turned back the dials" to counter the growing spread of COVID-19 in Minnesota

The governor and state health officials held a news briefing this afternoon to announce a number of new restrictions that they hope will slow the transmission of the new virus, particularly among people who are 18 to 35 years old. Walz says he has issued a new executive order that prohibits all bars and restaurants from serving food or drinks to customers after 10 PM, although takeout and delivery orders will be allowed. In addition, counter seating will be prohibited and capacity will be limited to 50-percent and 150 people overall beginning Friday night at 10 PM.

He is also placing new limits on the number of people allowed at private gatherings, which would include funerals, weddings, other celebrations, and various social groupings that occur in homes and elsewhere.  Small social and family gatherings are being restricted to 10 people and 3 households or less. The governor stressed that even those gatherings remain risky and masking and social distancing guidelines need to be followed.

Attendance limits for wedding and funeral receptions will be phased in the coming weeks. Walz says, beginning November 27, the number of people will be capped at 50 and then drop to 25 on December 11th. Those events will also need to end by 10 PM. The governor stressed the changes do not involve the actual wedding or funeral services, just the receptions or celebrations that follow them.

In announcing the new restrictions, Governor Walz cited data showing Minnesota is experiencing exponential growth in the spread of COVID-19 that could put our healthcare systems that risk of being overwhelmed if it continues unabated. He says the targeted "turning back of the dials" addresses the problem resulting from 18 to 35-year-old people who are asymptomatic and unknowingly causing the virus to spread into the population of older and more vulnerable Minnesotans.

He says White House Coronavirus Task Force Coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx estimated that asymptomatic spread could be responsible for 70-percent of the growth in new COVID-19 cases. Walz also says the data gathered by health officials also found over 70-percent of the infections have been taking place at private gatherings, along with bars and restaurants and there is a doubling of the infection rate after 9 PM, possibly due to alcohol lowering inhibitions.

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