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City officials ready to enforce Walz's bar, restaurant order

A day after Gov. Tim Walz issued an executive order closing most public gathering spaces in an effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus, local officials say they’re ready to enforce the order.

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Rochester Mayor Kim Norton issues a statement on City Council decisions during a press conference at the Government Center Tuesday, March 17, 2020. (Ken Klotzbach/kklotzbach@postbulletin.com)

A day after Gov. Tim Walz issued an executive order closing most public gathering spaces in an effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus, local officials say they’re ready to enforce the order.

As of 5 p.m. today, theaters, museums, gyms and other gathering areas are ordered to close and coffee shops, breweries and restaurants are ordered to close to dine-in guests through March 27.

That the order goes into effect on St. Patrick’s Day isn’t lost on enforcement officials.

"We’re truly asking people to be socially and personally responsible and to take the appropriate precautions and to adhere to the guidance that’s given to us through the governor’s emergency order," Rochester Police Chief Jim Franklin said at a news conference Tuesday morning.

"This comes down to individual responsibility in taking this seriously," Franklin said.

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Mayor Kim Norton summarized the city’s position.

"In other words, we don’t want to have to," Norton said of enforcing the order.

Businesses in violation of the order face misdemeanor charges, up to a $1,000 fine and up to 90 days in jail.

Norton also reviewed multiple steps the Rochester City Council implemented Monday to help people and businesses affected by the efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

The council unanimously approved up to $600,000 in funds to help people and businesses affected by closures. Those include:

  • Up to $250,000 is being set aside to support a Neighbors Helping Neighbors team seeking to leverage funds from community partners and public agencies to help people in need.
  • Up to $100,000 funding to support a Local Economic Stability team to leverage funds from other community partners to focus on the business community.
  • Partnering with Rochester Area Economic Development Inc. to manage and disburse $250,000 in Economic Development Revolving Loan Funds in low-interest loans to affected businesses and to leverage funds from other community partners and public agencies.

These funds and partners will work to identify and address needs of people with income, childcare or other concerns, Norton said.
"These teams are going to be meeting and find local solutions so that our residents and their families are taken care of," she said.

City Administrator Steve Rymer also said temporary changes to transit and parking policies will likely be announced later in the day.

"It sounds like the state may have some guidelines coming out on transit," Rymer said.

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Rymer said transit sanitation policies have been enhanced and social distancing is encouraged, but added that is difficult during high traffic times.

Mayor's announcement

Related Topics: POLICYFINANCE
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