MINNEAPOLIS ( WCCO) —  More people will be spending time inside as we enter the winter months, but with the COVID-19 positivity rate at 9.5%, the highest it’s been this year, some people may be hesitant to socialize indoors again.

Several businesses are bringing back the creativity from last winter and offering outdoor options.

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One of them is Utepils Brewing in Minneapolis. They first created an outdoor beer garden last winter during the pandemic that included a fire pit. On Saturday, they opened their winter beer garden again, but this time with two tents and several fires inside each them.

“This is the first year they’ve added these tents, so I think wind won’t be as much of an issue as it was before,” said Mary Ross, who enjoyed a beer outside by the roaring fire at Utepils with her husband, Ben.

“The fire out here is just a great one,” said Ben Ross.

The outdoor beer garden is something that owner Dan Justesen wanted to offer again, considering the current circumstances of the pandemic.

“We’re going to give them a space outdoors, that gives them a lot of comfort because if you don’t feel safe, you can’t relax, and if you can’t relax, you can’t have fun,” said Justesen.

While Utepils indoor space is still open, they wanted to make sure the outdoor space had everything customers would need.

“We built a new service window outside just to make sure people don’t have to go in if they don’t want to,” said Justesen.

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Out in the western suburbs, ninetwentyfive in downtown Wayzata is bringing back the four igloos that they invested in last year during the pandemic. This year they’ve elevated the outdoor experience even more.

“Each igloo is a different theme. We are partnered with a different spirit or wine in each of them. So this [tent] is Veuve Clicquot, we have a Belvedere Vodka, a Woodinville Whiskey and then a Chandon Sparkling Wine igloo,” said Cindy Tlaiye, the general manager of ninetwentyfive.

These igloos are already in high demand, especially for November and December.

“We went live with these [igloos] Nov. 1st and we’re already at 50 bookings,” said Tlaiye.

Last year, these igloos may have been a necessity, but this year, they’re just another dining option.

“The thought process is [guests] are not having to go into the restaurant, they’re not having to be around all these other guests or our staffing in the restaurant,” said Tlaiye.

Over in St. Paul, they are bringing back the outdoor European Christmas Market at the Union Depot on Nov. 26th. It was virtual last year. They will also be offering warming tents at this market.

For more options, WCCO compiled a full list of restaurants offering heated outdoor dining.

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Marielle Mohs