After 12 weeks of extremely limited or no ability to serve customers, Minnesota restaurants, bars, fitness centers and pools are among the businesses in the entertainment industry that will soon be allowed to reopen at their greatest capacity since Gov. Tim Walz issued coronavirus-related shutdowns in mid-March.
In "Phase 3" of the rolling reopening plan, Gov. Walz is expected to announce the loosening of restrictions, which are being reported by the Star Tribune and WCCO-AM political analyst Blois Olson as follows:
- Restaurants, bars and salons at 50 percent indoor capacity.
- Outdoor dining up to 250 customers.
- Pools up to 50 percent capacity.
- Indoor entertainment (movie theaters, bowling alleys, etc.) at 25% capacity, up to 250 people.
- Fitness centers at at 25 percent capacity, up to 250 people.
Confirmation of the order's precise details will be announced by Gov. Walz at 2 p.m.
The update comes amid the COVID-19 outbreak in Minnesota remaining steady, though the key metric of patients in intensive care has dropped to 220 on Friday, its lowest total since May 24 when it was at 207, and the 478 total hospitalizations is the lowest its been since May 12.
The new rules are expected to go into effect next Wednesday, June 10, a source tells Bring Me The News. That's just 10 days after Walz issued an executive order that allowed restaurants and bars to reopen for outdoor service at 25 percent capacity with a maximum guest allotment of 50, regardless of how much outdoor space an establishment has.
On May 23, after relenting on restrictions for churches and places of worship, Gov. Walz said it was unlikely that he'd reverse direction on eateries and pubs before June 1.
"At this time, we're not making any changes on that," Gov. Walz said May 23. "I don't want to set unreal expectations. But I do want to hear them and say I understand their great frustrations." He added that he doesn't want to "give false hope" but also chose to not completely "close the door as we try and talk through this."
Granting establishments the ability to open for indoor service could also save businesses that are on the brink of closure. A source from Blue Plate Restaurant Company, which operates nine Twin Cities restaurants, told KARE 11's Chris Hrapsky in May that some of its restaurants would face permanent closure if the order wasn't lifted within a month.
"I'm trying the best I can to work with them on this. I hear them. I think a month is probably in many cases more than most of these folks can, so we are trying the best we can. I can't change the trajectory of where COVID-19 goes unless I get the collaboration and cooperation of folks to bring it back down," Gov. Walz said then.
This is a developing story.