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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz announced Wednesday some of the rules businesses will need to follow to reopen.
There are a number of restrictions on bars, restaurants and other businesses that want to open on June 1. At restaurants, diners will only be allowed outdoors on patios, and they will need to be socially distanced. Customers will have to make a reservation, and servers are required to wear masks. Customers should wear them, too.
“We’re moving the dial, we have to,” Walz said. “We have to figure out how we can get back to more normal, how we can get people back working, how bring back some of those joyful things. But we can’t put people like [Minnesota Nursing Association president] Mary Turner and nurses across Minnesota or health care workers in jeopardy. We can’t put servers in restaurants in jeopardy.”
Minnesota Republicans are critical of the governor’s plans. House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt says businesses can’t afford to wait until June 1. He wants outdoor seating to begin immediately.
Many restaurants owners see Wednesday’s rules as another obstacle, as they have already been working around the clock to be ready to reopen. Allowing only outdoor seating was something many had not expected.
Stephanie Shimp of Blue Plate Restaurants said they can at least begin making plans for their locations.
“Honestly a little disappointed, but it’s something. It’s a start,” Shimp said
They hope to add picnic tables to parking lots, and set up at the Lowry like what’s already done at Groveland Tap. But she admits, it will still be tough.
“The fact that we won’t be inside and we have such unpredictable weather in Minnesota really is going to make staffing, you know, like a puzzle,” Shimp said
She said restaurants need more support, and Hospitality Minnesota agrees, saying many will be left behind during this phase of Stay Safe Minnesota. Lucy’s Burgers in White Bear Township said the new directive will lead to closures and lost jobs. While others are making plans to start serving outdoors like El Burrito Mercado.
Heather Asbury never dreamed of opening her namesake restaurant, Heather, during a pandemic, but that’s what happened.
“We went right into to-go business, which I guess it’s just kind of all we know at this point in time,” Asbury said.
For her, the model is working. Customers use the walk-up window. She hopes to get patio plans approved before it’s allowed on June 2, fast-forwarding future plans.
“We’ve always wanted to put a patio out back. The outside space out back is actually larger than our physical restaurant,” Asbury said.
But for so many, times remain tough, and day to day.
“We’re not making it, no. We are just squeaking by, and really trying to wait it out,” Shimp said.
Ken Sherman and Yoom Nguyen, owner and general manager of Sushi Seven Steakhouse and Rooftop in downtown Minneapolis, were taken by surprise by the governor’s announcement. They now have to make more changes so the restaurant will be ready by June 1. The main focus has been preparing to welcome guests in a fresh, new inside environment.
“We’re breaking this place down and re-cleaning it over and over again just to make sure that everything’s sanitized and up to code,” Nguyen said.
Nguyen’s focus now is getting the rooftop patio ready to go. Sherman says he expected Walz to give businesses relief by allowing them some sort of dining inside.
“That we start at 50% capacity, that all the staff will have to wear masks, that we’ll have to do far more cleaning than we have before,” Sherman said.
His hopes that the marching orders from the governor would be what he and his staff have spent the last two months preparing for are history. Once again, this team is faced with the changing ways of COVID-19, but they are prepared to do it what it takes to provide a safe and clean environment for all to enjoy.
“Whatever they recommend or require us to do, we’re certainly more than willing to do it,” Sherman said.
The state is encouraging cities to work with restaurants to help them expand outdoor dining space into parking lots or adjacent green spaces.
Hair and nail salons will also be allowed to open June 1, but only at 25% capacity. Churches can hold services, but with no more than 10 people attending.
Click here for a detailed chart outlining Wednesday’s announcement and future phases.
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