TWIN CITIES, MN — Minnesota Republicans criticized Gov. Tim Walz Tuesday for issuing new restrictions on businesses and social gatherings, saying he is abusing his authority. In an email to media, the party needled the governor by calling him "Supreme Leader Walz."
Republicans in the state have consistently attacked Walz for extending his coronavirus emergency powers, which have been in effect since March.
"Governor Walz has not been streamlined in his response to COVID," Republican Party of Minnesota Chairwoman Jennifer Carnahan said in a statement.
"When it suits his purposes he champions the data, when it doesn't fit his position, he ignores the data. We've watched for nearly nine months as he's taken advantage of his position to have it both ways and control all Minnesotan's lives."
Walz's new restrictions will apply to celebrations, receptions, bars, and restaurants, which are "the most significant sources of COVID-19 outbreaks," according to his office.
Starting Friday, all Minnesota bars and restaurants must end dine-in service at 10 p.m. and cannot reopen until 4 a.m.
"It is unfortunate the Governor is ordering bars and restaurants to close at 10pm, why allow anything to be open at all?" Carnahan continued. "The impact of his decisions will single-handedly further destroy an industry that is already struggling to make ends meet. What happened to a free and fair nation where individuals are allowed to choose personal responsibility and do what works best and is most comfortable for them?"
"It is far past the time where the Governor should have rescinded his powers, rolled back this extreme government overreach and stopped abusing the powers of his office to work co-equally with all branches of our government to allow more voices in the room and options to be put out on the table."
Walz's Tuesday announcement comes after a week of record-setting highs in new cases, hospitalizations, and deaths due to COVID-19. On Tuesday, more than 4,900 cases of COVID-19 were reported in Minnesota, along with 23 new deaths.
Minnesota's neighboring states have the highest infection rates in the U.S., and Minnesota's own case positivity rate is above 10 percent. That is double the level at which COVID-19 spread is considered controllable, according to state officials.