MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Despite rising cases, many Iowa businesses, including restaurants, now have the option to reopen their doors.

Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds loosened restrictions for most of the state, including nearly every county that borders Minnesota.

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Many restaurants in Mason City chose to remain takeout only, but the few that opened got busy Friday.

At Burke’s Bar and Grill, the regulars returned happily.

“It is a family reunion,” Bob Snook said.

Morgan Smith, a bartender at Burke’s, said this week was spent intensely cleaning to prepare.

The Blue Heron is another restaurant that opened to dine-in customers.

The openings come with conditions from Gov. Reynolds.

Restaurants can only seat 50% capacity.


Alyssa Lau, Blue Heron’s general manager, has pulled half of the tables and barstools from the restaurant.

Tables are also limited to parties of six, and employees frequently disinfect surfaces.

Andrew Henderson visited Mason City from Shoreview. He called himself a COVID-19 tourist because he wanted to have a drink at a bar.

“Sitting down and being served has been a wonderful experience after being cooped up a month and a half,” Henderson said.

That’s a feeling the locals share.

“Nice to be able to sit down and chat without having to be eating in a car,” said Paul Buck, a regular at Blue Heron.

The managers we spoke to said they expect to see more Minnesotans crossing the border the longer the state stays closed for business.

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David Schuman