(The Center Square) – Gov. Tim Walz announced the partial opening of outdoor dining at restaurants and bars starting on June 1, along with salons and barbershops at 25 percent capacity.
Customers may be required to wear masks, make reservations, and must practice social distancing requirements as a safety precaution.
“Our restaurants and bars are an integral part of the social fabric of Minnesota, and it has been heartbreaking to see this pandemic wreak havoc on our hospitality industry,” Walz said.
“While the virus won’t yet allow for business as usual, let’s do what we do best after winter in Minnesota and head outside. Whether it’s a Jucy Lucy, a plate of tamales, or a walleye dinner, Minnesotans can support their local restaurant by enjoying a socially distanced meal outdoors.”
Restaurants and bars have been closed for dine-in service for two months.
Restaurants must practice social distancing and seat fewer than 50 guests at a time.
“It’s important for all Minnesotans to remember that they have a big role to play in making this reopening process successful,” Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said. “By continuing to follow social distancing guidelines, wearing masks, washing hands, and staying home when sick, we can limit the spread of COVID-19 and protect our most vulnerable friends and family members."
Walz has previously allowed more than 100,000 people back to offices and retail facilities to return to work at half capacity.
His plan includes plans for further reopening unless COVID-19 cases and deaths spike.
Gyms, yoga studios, and martial arts may open at reduced capacity during Phase III.
“With the addition of safety measures like personal protective equipment and a limited number of people inside, it’s safe to say we’re not going back to normal,” Walz said. “But we can cautiously turn the dial back as Minnesotans continue to do their part to stay safe.”
Campgrounds and other recreational activities will open on June 1 when Minnesota enters Phase II of Walz’s Stay Safe Plan.
Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka pressed Walz to open churches as well, which on June 1 will be limited to 10 people or fewer, or through drive-in services.
“Throughout history, the church has gathered in times of distress, anxiety, war, and pandemic. I see no reason why churches are any more dangerous a place for coronavirus transmission than Walmart or a mall,” Gazelka said in a statement.
The East Gull Lake Republican said the state had already flattened the curve and had taken steps to ease pressure on the health care system.
“We have to allow people to get back to their lives,” Gazelka said. “The governor should be doing more to keep vulnerable populations and the elderly safe with restrictions and testing. But if you can get a haircut, shop at a mall, or eat at a restaurant, you should be able to go to church.”