From the youth level to the pros, sports in Minnesota are not affected by new restrictions on social gatherings announced Tuesday by Gov. Tim Walz to counter a dramatic increase in COVID-19 cases.
“There’s no additional restrictions on sports or on gyms,’’ said Steve Grove, commissioner of the state’s Department of Employment and Economic Development. “We’re just following the data as best we can and targeting this where we can.’’
The governor’s plan will close bars and restaurants at 10 p.m. and restrict the sizes of weddings, funerals and indoor and outdoor gatherings. The measures for bars and restaurants take effect at 10 p.m. Friday.
In a news conference, Walz said cases have been associated with health clubs “but just not to that level’’ that prompted him to take action with social gatherings.
COVID cases and related quarantines have prompted many high school games to be canceled or postponed this fall, in many cases because schools have shifted to distance learning. The recent surge has prompted even more cancellations and in some cases prompted schools to end their seasons early and delay the start of winter sports.
COVID cases are increasing among students and school staff but “so much more disease is occurring within the community than what we’re seeing in our education settings,’’ said Kris Ehresmann, infectious disease director for the Minnesota Department of Health.
Glen Andresen, executive director of Minnesota Hockey, said he took Walz’s message “as a signal to keep doing the right things’’ in youth hockey. He said the sport has about 90% of the participation it had a year ago.
“Our big message is we have to do everything we can if we want to keep our kids on the ice,’’ said Andresen, whose organization governs youth and amateur hockey in the state. “So however you feel about this stuff, we need people to follow the guidelines and do the right things.’’
PAUL KLAUDA, JEFF DAY