Why retail, salons are not part of Minnesota's 4-week pause

As Minnesota health officials see a consistent rise in COVID-19 cases, Gov. Tim Walz is prepared to implement a four-week pause on restaurants, bars and gyms, the Associated Press reports. Amid these restrictions, many have asked, why aren't stores and salons closing?

Last week, Walz explained that health officials are not seeing a trend in cases linked to retail or salons. However, health officials are seeing a significant number of cases linked to late nights at bars and restaurants, as well as large private gatherings. 

Walz said more than 70 percent of COVID-19 outbreaks in Minnesota from June to November had been directly linked to weddings, private social gatherings and bars and restaurants. Data provided by the state health department showed 57 such outbreaks in October after just 18 the previous month. 

Gov. Walz said Minnesota's contact tracers are finding "at least a doubling" of infections in bars after 9 p.m., as alcohol often lowers inhibitions and leads to louder talking and less social distancing.

"It seems like these things shouldn't be as risky or elevated, but what we're seeing is that they do do that," Walz said. "Our hospitality industry has done more than anybody should've ever asked of them, and they have done it so right...this is happening not because they're being lax but because it's the setting that the virus is most effective at spreading in." 

Economic Development Commissioner Steve Grove also recently stated that retail "just isn’t a concern” for virus spread.

Walz added that in the retail industry, transactions are quick, one-on-one and involve mask-wearing at all times.

Ahead of the holidays, the Minnesota Grocers Association is encouraging shoppers to use extra caution when going to the store:

  • Remain calm and mindful as they shop--prioritize your most immediate needs. Overbuying becomes a concern as a customer who buys more than they need prevents another customer from providing for their family. 
  • Wear a face covering or mask while you are in the store. Stay home if you are not feeling well, have a positive COVID-19 diagnosis, or have been exposed to COVID-19. 
  • Social distancing while in the store. Allow six feet between yourself and others. Streamline your trip by making a list and having only one family member do the shopping.
  • Be respectful of team members, who are often working double-time on the front lines and behind the scenes to meet customers' needs. Take a moment to thank them for their work and commitment to getting food to Minnesota families.