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Walz imposes new limits on Minnesotans’ social gatherings, bars, restaurants (updated with penalties)

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Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz has ordered Minnesota bars and restaurants to stop operate at no more than 50 percent capacity, and to stop serving at 10 p.m. He is also mandating that citizens limit attendance at weddings, funerals, and social gatherings under new restrictions he claims are aimed at slowing the accelerating spread of the coronavirus.

The governor says the new rules, which take effect Friday, are aimed at young adults, ages 18 to 35, who the state claims are often carriers of the virus without showing symptoms and are among the primary spreaders in the state.

The new limits will kick in shortly before Minnesotans visit family and friends for Thanksgiving. Starting Friday, indoor and outdoor social gatherings will be capped at ten people and no more than three households. Event receptions will be capped at 50 people starting November 27th and 25 people starting December 11th.

Although the governor hopes people will voluntarily comply with the order, anyone who “willfully violates” the order could face up to a $1,000 fine and up to 90 days in jail, the order states.  What’s more, business owners, managers or supervisors who require or encourage employees, contractors, interns, etc. to violate the order could face a $3,000 fine and up to a year in jail.

What’s different about this order is that it adds language that gives the Minnesota attorney general, county attorneys and city attorneys the ability to investigate violations or threatened violations. It also gives the attorney general and city and county attorneys the ability to recoup investigation costs, attorneys fees and other relief in accordance with state law from the business/violator. That’s in addition to the civil penalties the attorneys can seek against businesses that violate the order in an amount to be determined by the court (up to $25,000 per occurrence).

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