MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) - Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey is closing all indoor bar areas due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The emergency regulation, which goes into effect at 5 p.m. on Aug. 1, also covers taprooms, distilleries, nightclubs and restaurants with a bar area.
This does not mean, however, that bars must close their doors. The bar areas within restaurants and other establishments will have to close, however. Table seating, including high-tops, are allowed under the regulation as long as existing guidelines are adhered to. That guidance sets a maximum of four people at a table maximum unless they are in the same family and household with 6 feet of spacing between tables.
The city expects nearly 640 bars, brewpubs, tap rooms and adult entertainment businesses will be affected.
The move comes as Frey says at least nine bars in Minneapolis alone have been tied to patron outbreaks of COVID-19 and at least three bars have led to employee outbreaks.
The Mayor's office says more than 50 percent of new cases in Minneapolis are in people under the age of 35 who reported increased exposure in bars and at gatherings of freinds and family.
“National experts have recommended the consideration of closure of indoor bar areas,” said Minneapolis Health Commissioner Gretchen Musicant. “Local public health data and information from sweeps conducted by City Environmental Health inspectors supports taking that action to stem the rise of cases.”
At a press conference Wednesday afternoon, Walz addressed the concern of bars being forced to close statewide, saying, “We’re not looking at a statewide rollback at this point in time.”
The Minneapolis business community leader Jonathan Weinhagen, of the Minneapolis Regional Chamber, praised the decision, saying, "The raw numbers and share of traceable cases leading us back to bars, national trends, and expert advice have shown we need to take the threat of community spread seriously. I know that Mayor Frey created this tailored policy with the goal of keeping workers and patrons safe while heading off more sweeping measures like blanket closures.”
TIMELINE OF BARS CLOSING, REOPENING
March 27: Bars close statewide
Gov. Tim Walz issued a statewide stay-at-home order that lasted from March 27 to May 18, which forced bars and restaurants to close to slow the spread of the coronavirus. The stay-at-home order was replaced with the current “Stay Safe MN” plan, which allowed for a phased reopening of the state’s economy.
June 1: Bars allowed to reopen for outdoor dining
Under Phase 2 of the Stay Safe MN plan, which went into effect on June 1, bars and restaurants were allowed to reopen for outdoor dining.
June 10: Bars can reopen for indoor dining
Phase 3 of the Stay Safe MN plan began on June 10, which allowed for bars and restaurants to reopen for indoor dining at 50 percent capacity with a maximum of 250 people inside or outside.