Gov. Tim Walz has confirmed he will be loosening COVID-19 restrictions in Minnesota that will among other things allow indoor dining to resume.
Walz has announced the new measures that will come into effect Monday, which follows a period that has seen COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations drop in Minnesota.
As well as bars and restaurants being allowed to reopen to dine-in service, there are also changes to allow a limited number of people to watch outdoor and indoor sports, as well as attend entertainment venues.
Here's a look at the rules for restaurants:
- Indoor dining at bars and restaurants can open at 50% capacity, with a maximum of 150 people.
- No more than six people can dine/drink together at one time, and they must be six feet from other parties. Bar seating is open to parties of two.
- Reservations are required, and bars/restaurants must close indoor service by 10 p.m.
Here are the other rules being loosened:
- Gym capacity remains capped at 25% but max capacity rises to 150, and classes can increase to 25 people with social distancing. Machines and people must maintain 9 feet of distance – down from 12 feet – and face masks are still required at all times, including during workouts.
- Outdoor events and entertainment can operate at 25% capacity, but maximum increases to 250 people with social distancing.
- Indoor events and entertainment (bowling alleys, movie theaters, and museums) may open at 25% capacity, with no more than 150 people in each area of the venue. Face masks required, no food service after 10 p.m.
- Youth and adult organized sports have resumed practice as of Jan. 4 and games resume Jan. 14 with spectators, following the appropriate capacity limits for indoor or outdoor venues. Inter-region tournaments and out of state play are discouraged.
- Pools opened on Jan. 4 for some activity and may now open at 25% capacity.
- Wedding receptions and other private parties may resume with limits. If food and drink are served, they're limited to two households or 10 people indoors, or three households/15 people outdoors. If no food or drink, they are covered under event guidelines (outdoor 25% capacity, 250 people max/indoor 25% capacity, 150 people max).
- Places of worship remain open at 50% capacity but without an overall maximum capacity. This includes for weddings and funerals.
“The situation in Minnesota is undeniably better than it was last month,” Gov. Walz said. “We have reasons to be optimistic, and Minnesotans’ sacrifice and commitment to their communities helped change the pandemic’s trajectory and saved lives. But we need to protect the progress we’ve made.”
Walz will address Minnesotans in a 2 p.m. press conference.
“As we cautiously adjust the dials to help Minnesotans return to important elements of their daily lives, we continue to monitor where we stand,” Walz said. “Two months ago the pandemic quickly snowballed from manageable to out-of-control. For our students, our small businesses, and public health, we cannot allow that to happen again.”
But Walz continues to urge caution and for Minnesotans to follow COVID guidance with regards to masks, social distancing, and hand washing.
His release notes that other states are seeing surges of the virus, while there remain concerns about outbreaks of more contagious mutations of the virus in other countries, prompting strict lockdowns.