Restaurants, bars, coffee shops and other leisure establishments in Minnesota must temporarily close by 5pm today (Tues), Saint Patrick’s Day — by order of Governor Tim Walz as the state tries to control the spread of COVID-19 coronavirus. The governor says the state is at a critical point:

“If we get beyond that curve where community spread accelerates to the point that our hospitals can’t keep up, that our respirators are not being able to (be obtained), and some of the things that we need to get to folks, it becomes a really critical situation.”

Eating establishments will still be allowed to do curbside, takeout and delivery service. The governor’s order remains in effect through March 27th but he says there will “probably be a further extension.”

Well-known restauranteur Andrew Zimmern says “nobody wants to close, but we know that we must”:

“My heart breaks as I read letter after letter from chefs and restauranteurs across our state and country expressing the same ideas.”

Stephanie Shimp, owner of a major Twin Cities restaurant company, says it’s really hard for someone in hospitality to tell customers, stay home:

“But this is a time to cook meals at home and to be with your family, and to do everything we can to help those in health care and to flatten to the curve and to keep the hospital beds open for those really need it.”

The governor’s restaurant and bar shutdown order expires March 27th, but he says…

“I think the expectation here is that these will of course be re-upped. This is to set the parameters, if you will, set the level — and I think most of us understand there will probably be a further extension.”

And Walz says Minnesotans in coming days should expect additional measures in the battle against coronavirus.

Governor Walz:

“Please don’t go out for one more time to crowd the bars before they close. Don’t make a rush, if you can, on the liquor stores, whatever it might be…. Do these things in an orderly manner.”