Restaurants, bars, and gyms will be allowed to reopen for indoor service under the latest "turning of the dials" from Gov. Tim Walz in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Gov. Walz announced the following changes in his administration's restrictions as it attempts to slow the spread of the virus, which has so far killed 1,148 Minnesotans – the majority of them elderly people in long-term care.
The changes, which will come into force on Wednesday, June 10, are as follows:
- Gathering limit outdoors increases to 25 people. Indoor gathering limit still 10 max. Social distancing and masks still encouraged.
- Games can resume in low-risk sports, but high contact sports (ie. basketball) must be practice only.
- Restaurants, bars can operate at 50 percent indoor capacity. Workers must wear masks, customers encouraged to while not eating or drinking. Reservation-only requirement remains.
- Outdoor dining allow for up to 250 customers.
- Hair salons, barbershops, tattoo parlors can now operate up to 50 percent capacity, again with masks required for workers and customers.
- Pools up to 50 percent capacity.
- Indoor entertainment (movie theaters, bowling alleys, arcades and museums etc.) can reopen at 25 percent capacity, up to 250 people.
- Outdoor entertainment venues including sporting events, concerts, and theaters, can open with max of 250 people in "single self-contained space."
- Gyms and fitness centers at 25 percent capacity, up to 250 people.
- Minnesota churches can increase capacity to 50 percent with max of 250 people.
The looser restrictions come after Minnesota has seen the growth of COVID-19 hospitalizations slow down in recent weeks, and while the past two days have seen an increase in deaths compared to the previous few, the overall trend of deaths is either in stable or slightly decreasing.
There remains caution however given that experts including the U of M's Michael Osterholm has previously suggested that the state might see a leveling off of case during the summer, only for a significant spike to follow in the form of a "second wave" in the fall.
And this comes after a week in which large groups of protesters have gathered in the Twin Cities and cities in Greater Minnesota.
Restaurants and bars have been prevented from offering dine-in service due to the COVID-19 outbreak since mid-March, with businesses including movie theaters and gyms similarly shut down since then.
Since then, a number of Twin Cities restaurants have shuttered for good, while others have struggled to make it work on takeout and delivery service alone.
Restaurants were allowed to resume patio-only service on June 1, but many in the Twin Cities were unable to due to the civil unrest that broke out following the killing of George Floyd by police.