MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – As COVID-19 restrictions begin to ease, seating capacities are expanding at popular Minnesota venues. The rollback will allow thousands of fans to see live sports again.

The ease-up, which went into effect on Thursday, includes guidelines for both indoor and outdoor venues like arenas, gyms, and restaurants. Previously, those spaces had capacity restrictions and a maximum of 250 people.

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Fans were excited to head to the Xcel Energy Center for the Minnesota State High School League Girl’s Hockey Tournament. Thursday morning’s game was the first that allowed up to 3,000 fans inside.

“It’s really exciting, it is just fun to be there and experience the energy that’s there,” said Alyssa Yokom, a student from Hermantown.

Indoor seated venues with a capacity above 500 can now have an additional 15% of the occupant capacity above 500, with a maximum of 3,000 people.

Large outdoor seated venues, like Target Field, get more leeway: an additional 25% of the occupant capacity above 500, with a maximum of 10,000 attending.

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Large gyms, restaurants, and bars can have more than 250 people if their regular capacity allows. But all visitors to venues must still wear masks and maintain social distancing.

Still, restaurant owners are optimistic.

Patti Soskin, who owns Yum Kitchen and Bakery says she’s feeling hopeful as outdoor dining picks up, people get vaccinated, and the ease-up on restrictions will benefit others.

“Our biggest situation is being six feet apart, which I do believe in,” she said.

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There are some different requirements for non-seated large venues. For the full list of changes, click here.

Kate Raddatz