Gov. Tim Walz is expected to announce this week whether Minnesota restaurants, bars and entertainment venues that have been under forced closure since the end of November will be able to reopen soon.

Using emergency powers, Walz ordered the businesses closed to indoor use as of Nov. 21 as coronavirus diagnoses surged throughout Minnesota.

The Democratic governor later extended the closures to run through Jan. 11, a week from Monday. Word of what's next for those businesses is likely to come this week.

Republican state Sens. Michelle Benson and Eric Pratt said Walz should make his intentions clear on Monday.

"Anyone who runs a restaurant knows it's not just flipping a switch to reopen," said Pratt, of Prior Lake. "The industry needs time to order supplies and schedule employees at least a week in advance."

Senate Republicans are also seeking a different approach to enforcing pandemic protocols at businesses, with a greater emphasis on responding to specific outbreaks rather than a blanket enforcement approach.

The politics of the pandemic response are likely to be center stage in this year's legislative session, which gets underway on Tuesday. Republicans have tried and failed multiple times in recent months to curtail Walz's use of emergency powers.

Patrick Condon