Walz keeps indoor dining ban; gyms, sports get limited restart

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz is extending his ban on indoor dining while putting strict limits on the restart of gyms and youth sports, drawing a quick backlash from opponents as coronavirus cases decline.

Walz's new executive order will take effect Friday night, replacing one that's been in place since Nov. 21 and set to expire Friday. 

Bars and restaurants

Walz is extending his ban on indoor dining at thousands of bars and restaurants across the state into January. Outdoor dining will be allowed to restart at 50% capacity Saturday, when the high temperature is forecast to be 27 degrees in the Twin Cities.

No more than four people at a table will be allowed for outdoor dining. There will be a 10 p.m. curfew.

Hospitality trade group Hospitality Minnesota said it was "gravely disappointed" in the decision. The group was pushing as recently as Tuesday to allow indoor dining rooms to open at 50% capacity.

The Minnesota Licensed Beverage Association, which represents bars and restaurants that serve alcohol, said Walz's new executive order is "shameful and unjust." Allowing limited outdoor dining is "paltry," the group said.

Gyms and fitness centers

The governor is allowing gyms to reopen at 25% capacity on Saturday, though no group classes will be allowed until at least Jan. 4.

People will have to remain 12 feet apart and wear masks at all times. Pools will remain closed.

Locker rooms can open, but showers are closed. 


Youth sports teams can restart practices on Jan. 4. Walz is not allowing games to resume.

Social gatherings

Restrictions will be loosened slightly. Indoors, two households and no more than 10 people will be allowed to gather. Outside, the limit is three households and 15 people.


Elementary schools can reopen to in-person instruction beginning Jan. 18. 

Most metro-area districts have been doing distance learning since Thanksgiving. Walz said Tuesday that he was focused on how to get kindergarten through fifth grade students back in school.