ST. PAUL -- Monday is expected to be a big day for businesses directly impacted by the governor's most recent closure due to COVID-19. Political Insider Blois Olson says Governor Tim Walz is expected to announce on Monday whether he'll extend the four-week pause beyond next Friday, December 18th.

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He says his sources confirm gyms and youth sports will have some guidance on Monday to start up again, however, in what capacity and the timing is not known yet.

Olson says the governor is waiting until Monday to make sure the state legislature has an economic relief package put together, and he also wants to make sure the state is past the post-Thanksgiving surge in COVID cases.

If you take the rate that the cases are falling here in Minnesota and you project that out we would be back to our October case levels by January 4th.  I think the governor's consideration is with the holidays coming how much do you open the state to avoid another surge in January or early February?

Olson says Republicans and Democrats have come to an agreement on $216 million in grants for businesses that have been closed during the current 'pause' by the governor. However, he says one sticking point continues to be over unemployment benefits for workers.

How long unemployment benefits would be extended, the estimate is that currently, the cost to the state is about $40 million a week, and so do we extend them for six weeks, 13 weeks, what is the extension there?

Olson says Democrats also want the relief package to include funding for housing assistance and some food relief.

He says all of the money would come from the state's budget surplus, which would hopefully be paid back in federal funds once the federal government passes its aid package. Olson says the state's rainy day fund would not be tapped for this relief package.

Olson says the state legislature's special session on Monday will last just one day with the passing of an economic relief package the main item. The regular session of the state legislature is scheduled to begin on January 4th.

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