Health inspectors conduct 2nd sweep of Minneapolis bars after complaints about mask compliance, 3 bars cited

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said Friday that health inspectors are conducting a second sweep of bars in the certain parts of the city where they have received the majority of complaints about customers not wearing masks. 

“We are receiving complaints about customers not wearing masks inside of businesses,” Frey told the Minneapolis City Council at their meeting Friday. “So to help increase compliance, business owners have been requested new signage clearly stating the city requires masks in indoor public spaces.”

Frey said health inspectors are sweeping 24 bars in downtown, Uptown and Dinkytown on Thursday and Friday. 

A city spokesperson told FOX 9 Friday afternoon the city will issue citations to three bars for violating the Minneapolis' mask mandate, but did not name the bars. 

Masks are required to be worn in public indoor spaces in Minneapolis, including bars and restaurants. 

State Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said Friday that the Minnesota Department of Health and its local public health partners are stepping up enforcement of social distancing and protection protocols at bars and restaurants after they received 120 complaints from citizens. 

Malcolm said most complaints were about staff not wearing masks, but they also received complaints about too many people in an establishment’s indoor space, not enough space between the tables and several other issues related to a lack of social distancing or protection protocol. 

Last month, Minnesota health officials reported 100 cases of COVID-19 were linked to bars in the Twin Cities. 

“We’re stepping up this enforcement not to play gotcha with restaurants and bars, but because we feel so strongly that following these requirements is so essential to help reduce the spread of COVID-19, to protect both the customers and staff in these establishments and frankly, to increase our chances of keeping the spread of COVID to a low enough level that we can avoid a pretty drastic dial-backs in what establishments are open and how they can operate,” Malcolm said. “The compliance we get not only from the facilities, but from patrons, helps make it more likely that we can continue to enjoy these services at all.” 

Currently, Minnesota guidelines allow bars and restaurants to be open at 50 percent capacity for both indoor and outdoor seating, with a maximum capacity of 250 people.

Under the guidelines, people cannot stand by, or hang out around a bar. They must be seated at a table of six people or less or sitting at a bar top, separated by six feet from another group. 

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Hospitality industry leaders have asked the public to help abide by and enforce these rules while they are out to help the restaurant industry stay open as is and potentially fully open.