MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It’s official: Minnesota bars and restaurants will stay open later. And as venues prepare to host larger crowds, it’s causing some stress.

Gov. Tim Walz announced the easing of restrictions Thursday. The state will end remaining restrictions on outdoor limits and indoor activities by May 28 and lift the mask mandate by July 1.

READ MORE: COVID In Minnesota: Nearly 67% Of Minnesotans 16+ Have Received A Vaccine Shot

With the news rolling out, it’s off to the races for restaurants, venues and sporting arenas as they got some welcomed yet unexpected news.

John Groen is Vice President of Marketing at Canterbury Park in Shakopee.

“Didn’t think it would come as fast and dramatic steps as announced yesterday,” he said. “Now comes the hard work of getting ready and getting people back out here.”

Groen’s team at Canterbury Park is now racing as well.

“We are hiring, we have signing bonuses. We have a fun environment,” he said.

One of the employees returning the races is Alexis Pearson, who also works at a Woodbury restaurant.

READ MORE: COVID Community Test Sites In Mpls., St. Paul, Bloomington To Close By End Of The Week

“I kind of was in every terrible career that you could be in during COVID, because it wasn’t like I could just work from home,” Pearson said.

But with seven times as many guests as they saw last year, Pearson is back in business.

“Really, really excited and hopefully one of many steps forward over the next couple months,” Pearson said.

Hope is also in the air at Charlie’s on Prior Lake Restaurant. Lee Sorensen is bar manager.

“Extending the hours so we can stay open later and we can capitalize on more revenue,” Sorensen said. “Also the larger parties … I think people will be more apt to go out and say we can bring the whole family out and sit at one table. We don’t have to have our masks on.”

Another big change, Twin Cities Summer Jam with Carrie Underwood and Zac Brown band is officially confirmed. They were only going to be able to have 2,000 people at the concert but with loosened restrictions, they can now have ten times as many people, up to 20,000.

MORE NEWS: Minnesota Lawmakers Agree To $250 Million In Bonuses To Pandemic Frontline Workers

So, celebration and preps across the state are underway, but it will be a race to the finish.

Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield