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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minnesota restaurant owners are stocking up on supplies in anticipation of new reopening guidelines set to be revealed Wednesday.
WCCO has learned those guidelines will focus on “four pillars,” according to Hospitality Minnesota: Sanitation, personal hygiene, social distancing, and health screening/personal protection.
After more than two months of only curbside pick-up and delivery, restaurants like The Pointe Grill and Bar are anxious to welcome back dine-in customers. Ryan Bartlett is the owner.
“We’re ready to go with online reservations, we’re ready with social distancing, and we’re ready with sanitizer, we’re ready with, you know, the face masks,” Bartlett said.
He is part of a coalition of restaurants in Prior Lake that sent a letter to Gov. Tim Walz last month, outlining how they plan to protect staff and customers. But he still worries about the unknown requirements that could be announced, such as the potential need for glass barriers, which he doesn’t have yet.
“If we get the approval to open up on June 1, but yet it’s gonna take us three weeks to get something [like glass barriers], we’re still behind,” Bartlett said.
Since mid-April, Hospitality Minnesota has been advising Walz and other state leaders on how safely reopen restaurants, leaning on methods used in other states that have opened earlier, as well as national guidance from organizations like the National Restaurant Association.
Hospitality Minnesota CEO Liz Rammer said her organization, along with other groups, have been meeting for round-table discussions with state agencies weekly since the start of May to help with Minnesota’s reopening plan.
“It’s really a collective of both best practices, as well as giving the operators the ability to customize per their location and how this is going to best work for their employees and their culture,” Rammer said.
Immediately before the shutdown, the hospitality industry was already making adjustments to keep people safe, according to Rammer. WCCO reported on restaurants that were ramping up sanitizing and having staff wear gloves in early March as the pandemic started to intensify.
The question going forward is how the new regulations will be enforced.
“I think right now it rests in the state’s hands to come back and really inform the industry of what are gonna be the ‘musts’ and what will be the ‘shoulds’ in all of this,” Rammer said.
Some cities are taking matters into their own hands. Lakeville announced it will temporarily allow expanded drive-thru and drive-up services for restaurant, as well allowing them to add outdoor seating for patios.
Lakeville City Council Member Luke Hellier shared a release Tuesday that noted, “The temporary outdoor use may occur in parking areas or green space areas without need for variance.”
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