Minneapolis is adding new restrictions to bars in the city to stop COVID spread

Bar patrons will now have to be seated and will not be allowed to move around

WCCO Radio Newsroom
July 29, 2020 - 2:21 pm
Bar, masks, drinks

(Getty Images / MaximFesenko)

Minneapolis is adding new restrictions to bars in the city in an effort to stop the spread of coronavirus.  

Mayor Jacob Frey said on Wednesday afternoon the city was closing indoor bar areas, saying the fight against coronavirus in Minneapolis has to be a priorty.  "We have to resist fatigue, resist complacency.  We cannot wait until it's too late to act." 

Mayor Frey went on to explain that it doesn't mean businesses that run bars must close, but they will not be allowed to serve drinks to customers who are standing or ordering from a bar area.  The order goes into effect at 5:00p.m. Friday.  

"Today, I'm closing indoor bar areas for regular service for Minneapolis.  We are not closing bars as a building.  We are closing bars to patrons, where you would walk up to a bar, order a drink and pass off a credit card in large numbers.  Instead, we want you seated.  In other words, butts in the seats, OK.  Ordering a beer from a bar, not OK."

You will not be allowed to move around with drinks inside bars as well.   

The order does allow bars to convert open space in front of a bar to seated space if they can accomodate social distancing.  

Mayor Frey cited information that bars have been the source of significant COVID spread all across the country, and in Minnesota.  

“Across the country we’ve seen data clearly show that a night out at the bar is leading to nights in the hospital for family, friends, and neighbors,” said Frey. “By focusing on bar areas, which are proven to be hot beds for congregation and community spread, we can help keep Minneapolis trends stable. That commitment to public health gives us the best shot at both protecting frontline workers – a disproportionate share of whom are people of color – and keeping our businesses open.” 

The order includes tap rooms, brewpubs and adult entertainment businesses, and distilleries within the city. 

The mayor added that most Minneapolis establishments hadn't been an issue, but they are concerned about the businesses who were not following already established rules set up by both the city and the Minnesota Department of Health.  "You're not doing this for the 95% of bar operators doing things the right way," Frey says.  "We're doing this for the 5% who are not."

“National experts have recommended the consideration of closure of indoor bar areas,” said Minneapolis Health Commissioner Gretchen Musicant. “Local public health data and information from sweeps conducted by City Environmental Health inspectors supports taking that action to stem the rise of cases.”

Previously, bars in the city could operate at 50% capacity, up to 250 people.  Reservations are required, and party size is limited to 4, or up to 6 from one household.  Those rules are still being enforced, along with the new regulations.  

The city will also enforce the new rules with fines and jeopardizing their liquor license if businesses don't comply.  

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has in the last day warned about the Midwest becoming a new coronavirus hot spot.  

Meanwhile, Minnesota has seen hospitalizations and ICU beds increase to levels not seen since late June, and state officials are worried about another surge in cases.  Those numbers are still approximately half what they were during the state's highest numbers in May.  

 

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