People in Minneapolis and St. Paul now have to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test to dine out.
The mayors of the Twin Cities last week announced the new policy, which went into effect on Wednesday, Jan. 19. (The policy goes into effect for ticketed events on Jan. 26.)
It's the latest measure being taken to try to slow the spread of the virus, with mayors Melvin Carter and Jacob Frey having reinstated a public mask mandate earlier this month. But omicron has proven to be more transmissible and with a potentially shorter incubation period than prior COVID strains, prompting more public health mandates.
The new protocols apply to restaurants and any other indoor establishments where food or drink is served. That includes places like bars, breweries, coffee shops, movie theaters, sports stadiums, entertainment venues, bowling alleys, and wedding venues. (It doesn't include schools, hospitals, churches or soup kitchens.)
What this means for you
If you plan to go anywhere that serves food or alcohol in Minneapolis or St. Paul, be prepared to show you're vaccinated or have recently tested negative for COVID-19.
Those under 5, who are not yet eligible for the vaccine, do not have to show proof of vaccination nor a negative COVID test.
To prove you're vaccinated, you can show your official vaccine card, a photo of it, a copy of it or a third-party phone app. In St. Paul, you'll have to show your ID with your proof of vaccination if you're 18 or older.
For tests, you must show a negative PCR or antigen test taken by a medical professional within the past 72 hours. Rapid at-home tests aren't accepted.
Businesses will be responsible for enforcing the mandate, and the cities say they'll follow up on complaints about businesses that are not following protocols.
It's estimated that only about one-third of restaurants in St. Paul are subject to the mandate because it can only enforce rules for businesses it has licensing power over.
Eateries that don't serve alcohol in St. Paul are licensed by the Minnesota Department of Health, but St. Paul does license those that sell alcohol, so they are subject to the mandate. In Minneapolis, the city licenses restaurants, so all are subject to the mandate.
St. Paul's mandate is set to expire in 40 days, but the mayor could extend it. In Minneapolis, there's no set date for when it will expire but Frey said the city will monitor the situation and announce updates when needed.