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How Minnesota bars and restaurants are reopening

July 7, 2020

A restaurant worker pouring milk from a pitcher. Text that says Industry Guidance for Safely Reopening Restaurants & Bars.


After several weeks of lockdown, you’re probably looking forward to a little bit of normalcy. Perhaps you’re taking the kids to the park, or you’re planning to go to a social distancing barbeque in a neighbor’s backyard. If those plans involve going to a restaurant, bar or similar establishment, though, you may wonder what the state is requiring them to do to reopen safely.

The state has released a set of guidelines for safely reopening restaurants and bars. You may already have heard about the COVID-19 Business Preparedness plans that all reopening business are required to establish. And any business providing food and beverages for on-site consumption must follow these key requirements:

  • Tables must be at least 6 feet apart.
  • They must operate at 50% of their occupant capacity, up to 250 people.
  • Outdoor spaces can’t exceed 250 people.
  • A table has to seat four people or fewer – six people if they’re all part of the same household.
  • They must require reservations.
  • All employees must wear masks, and customers should do the same when not eating.

In addition, the state has provided detailed guidelines to help reopening restaurants and bars protect both their employees and their customers. For example, workers should maintain social distancing (6 feet apart) with one another, follow good hygiene procedures (think regular hand-washing), and stay home when they feel sick. Where the building itself is concerned, businesses need to make sure they are adequately ventilated and that they have workplace cleaning and disinfection protocols in place. And of course, something you’ve likely already experienced: contactless delivery and payment. This goes for deliveries (like food and supplies) to the restaurant as well as from the restaurant to you.

As in every other aspect of the COVID-19 pandemic, you have a part to play as well – in this case, for the safety of the workers at the establishment and your fellow customers. Before you go out to eat or join friends at the bar, take your temperature. If it’s elevated, or if you feel sick in any way, stay home. Wash or sanitize your hands frequently. Establishments are encouraged to make hand sanitizer available in high-traffic areas. And wear a mask whenever you’re not eating.

This is just an overview of the much more detailed requirements and guidelines the state has laid out for restaurants and bars to reopen safely. You can find the detailed industry guidance on the Alcohol and Gambling Enforcement Division’s website. But you get the idea: if you do decide to eat out, it’s important to know what businesses are doing to keep you safe – and how you can keep them and others safe, too.