ST. PAUL — Minnesota's current coronavirus-related restaurant and bar closures have kept beverages out of the hands (and bellies) of diners hoping to keep their local watering holes afloat during the shutdowns.

And after receiving an onslaught of online questions about the issue, Gov. Tim Walz on Friday, March 20, said he and his administration were weighing changes that could free up beverage options with restaurant takeout orders.

"We're trying to lean into what helps them in managing public safety, but I can tell you we are exploring that," Walz told reporters. "We will look into it and I will make sure we're following up."

The ask comes as Minnesota entered nearly the third day of the new COVID-19 reality of limited access to restaurant services outside delivery and takeout options. Walz in an executive order on Monday called for bars and restaurants to shutter in-person offerings beginning Tuesday to curb the spread of COVID-19, the disease stemming from the coronavirus. Those that violated those temporary shutdowns could face fines or prison time.

Businesses facing closures around the state have said the requirement has hit their bottom lines but many supported the move to stomp out COVID-19. In the Twin Cities, chefs opened their restaurants to give away food and around the state restaurants partnered with local charities to help feed neighbors in need.

The Department of Employment and Economic Development this week saw unemployment insurance applications from more than 36,000 bar, restaurant and hospitality workers.

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