‘Shameful’: Minnesota bars and restaurants allowed to reopen for outdoor dining only 

Forecasts show the high on Saturday, the first day of the governor's new rules, will be 29°.

Minnesota Governor's Office/YouTube

Gov. Tim Walz made some minor modifications to his COVID-19 restrictions on bars, restaurants, gyms and social gatherings during a Wednesday announcement.

The new rules will take effect Saturday after his current restrictions expire. Under the new executive order, bars and restaurants will be allowed to reopen for outdoor dining, but indoor service will remain prohibited until at least Jan. 11.

“Today’s news is not only devastating, it’s shameful and unjust. Minnesota’s hospitality industry has complied in good faith with mask mandates, limited service, and yet has only seen 1.76% of COVID cases tracked back to bars and restaurants. The data driving the decisions is not transparent to the public and isn’t being used to make our collective actions smarter or safer for all involved,” Tony Chesak, director of the Minnesota Licensed Beverage Association, said in a statement.

He said the governor’s new executive order “continues blanket rules that are resulting in the near elimination of an entire industry.”

“The paltry offering of limited outdoor dining in the middle of a Minnesota winter doesn’t even begin to make up for the forced closures. While Gov. Walz’s dials turn, more and more of Minnesota’s restaurants and bars will be forced to turn their lights off permanently,” Chesak added.

Hospitality Minnesota CEO Liz Rammer said the industry is “gravely disappointed by the governor’s decision to extend the closure of restaurants into the new year.”

“The tide is turning as we have witnessed all week as more and more businesses are willing out of desperation to risk fines and penalties to save their livelihoods,” she said in a statement.

Outdoor dining will be restricted to 50% capacity and a maximum of 100 people. Gyms and fitness centers are allowed to reopen at 25% capacity and face masks must be worn by all guests at all times.

“Gov. Walz’s announcement that Life Time and other health clubs are allowed to reopen is great news for Minnesotans,” said Life Time spokesperson Dan DeBaun. “Good health helps to reduce COVID risks, and so having safe spaces to exercise as winter approaches is an essential part of the solution to this crisis.”

Walz has also made some modifications to his total ban on social gatherings. Heading into the Christmas holiday, social gatherings of two households and no more than 10 people are allowed. Additionally, outdoor gatherings of three households and up to 15 people are permitted.

Youth sports can resume practices in early January, but adult sports are still banned. The order also allows elementary schools to return to in-person instruction beginning Jan. 18, a move Sen. Roger Chamberlain, R-Lino Lakes, called “out of touch.”

“The science and data are clear: kids need to be back in school now and it will be safe. Being out of school has done great harm to our kids and every day they are not in school it gets worse. The governor’s proposal includes only K-6 and it could take nearly two months to execute,” said Chamberlain, incoming chair of the Senate Education Committee.

“The kids cannot wait any longer. He can’t do it all on his own. He needs the Legislature’s help to get this right. We are ready to provide assistance and help develop a plan of Focused Protection. We are the body most closely connected to the public; we are the most responsive to the issues on their minds. Unless and until the Legislature is involved in the planning, the governor is going to continue to make the same mistakes,” he continued.

Meanwhile, more than 200 bars and restaurants across the state began reopening their doors Wednesday in a mass protest of the governor’s orders.



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Anthony Gockowski

Anthony Gockowski is Editor-in-Chief of Alpha News. He previously worked as an editor for The Minnesota Sun and Campus Reform, and wrote for the Daily Caller.