MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Starting Wednesday, you’ll need to show a proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test to get into a restaurant or bar in Minneapolis and St. Paul.

The mayors of both cities made the joint announcement last week following the continued rise in COVID cases. This requirement will apply to anyone over the age of 5.

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In addition, both mayors reinstated the mask mandate in indoor public spaces as well.

One restaurant owner said this move disrupts all the progress their industry has made since losing so much business at the beginning of the pandemic.

“It’s a thriving part of our economy and the biggest challenge we have — I think the biggest question we have, is why are we always the one that’s singled out, our industry?” Luke Shimp, owner of Red Cow and Red Rabbit, said. “You can go to day care, you can go to all kinds of other places, gyms, grocery stores and such, but yet it always seems to be the restaurants are what the politicians pick on.”

He is right that this mandate will not apply to grocery stores, retail shops, schools, hospitals and skyways. Entertainment venues, like sports stadiums, bowling alleys, movie theaters and convention centers, will have the same vaccine or negative test requirements starting Jan. 26.


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Shimp also said this puts a lot of pressure on bars and restaurants to enforce a strict rule.

“For us, our company, we’re going to do our best to make it the least invasive experience possible,” he said. “We’re in the hospitality business, we’re here to give an experience and we just want you to keep coming out and support us, because the industry is hurting and it has been hurting.”

Al’s Breakfast in Dinkytown has been around for 70 years, and asked last year that all their customers be vaccinated. It’s been on the honor system until Wednesday, when they started asking to see vaccine cards and negative tests.

“We do have a lot of regulars here, since we are a place that’s been around for 72 years, so one thing we’re doing is we have a list. So regulars just come in and show their card once and so we know them, we know they’re vaccinated and they can be like ‘yeah I’m on the list,’ and we check it,” said Restaurant Manager Rex Morgan.

In St. Paul, only about a one-third of restaurants fall under this requirement, because of licensing.

St. Paul can only require the mandate for restaurants licensed with the city, and it only licenses places that serve alcohol. So several fast food restaurants and coffee shops do not have to enforce this mandate.

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You can show your physical vaccine card or a photo of it on your phone. The negative test needs to be from a lab within 72 hours.

Marielle Mohs