by Scott McClallen
Gov. Tim Walz hinted Monday he would enact targeted restrictions to slow the spread of COVID-19 but didn’t describe the new rules planned.
Walz said the state health department had identified three major infection sources of spread: social gatherings, bars and restaurants.
It appears as if those restrictions will mostly affect bars and restaurants.
“Many of you can extrapolate and start thinking about this: where are the 18-to-34-year-olds congregating together?” Walz said. “Where are they and what are some of the incidences of the social spread happening? It makes sense to us to target those much more surgically and aggressively than a statewide stay at home order.”
A week ago, the Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said the state had launched investigations into 161 bars and restaurants that officials had linked to 3,185 primary COVID-19 cases.
About 74 of 161 businesses investigated had at least seven cases, accounting for a total of 2,220 primary cases, MinnPost reported.
Liz Rammer, the CEO of Hospitality Minnesota, told The Center Square that only 2% of COVID-19 cases are affiliated with bars and restaurants.
“The state has repeatedly told us they do not intend to shut down restaurants and bars, and we have not been told any different today,” Rammer said in a statement.
“We would hope that any targeted restrictions being contemplated would take into account that restaurants and bars are affiliated with only 2% of the cases, and not unfairly single out these businesses. Closing down bars and restaurants would only serve to push more people to home gatherings where the data shows increased case spread.”
Walz said that since March, the state has learned its limits of what activities are possible with proper COVID-19 testing.
“At this point in time, we’ve learned we can do retail, we can do education, some of it in person, if we’re able to test, contain and contact trace those folks to get (their infections) isolated,” he said.
Those between the ages of 20-24 make up the largest number of Minnesota’s COVID-19 cases with 21,961 and a single death, followed by those 25 to 29 with 17,776 cases and three deaths.
However, 92% of those killed by COVID-19 in Minnesota were 60 years of age or older.
Walz also said the state is considering using mobile devices to track people’s movement and proximity to others so they could be notified of possible COVID-19 exposure, the Star Tribune reported.
Mobile contact tracing applications have been used throughout the United States but spark privacy concerns among civil liberty advocates.
Rep. Pat Garofalo, R-Farmington, tweeted in opposition to the vague announcement.
“On Monday, restaurants/bars submit orders for the upcoming week. The confusion from Gov Walz is costing small businesses big $$. If they order products he won’t let them sell, it costs them huge $. If they DON’T order products, they lose $ from lost sales. They need clarity ASAP!”
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Scott McClallen is a staff writer covering Michigan and Minnesota for The Center Square. A graduate of Hillsdale College, his work has appeared on Forbes.com and FEE.org. Previously, he worked as a financial analyst at Pepsi.