Minneapolis, Bloomington will let restaurants reopen June 1 with parking lot, sidewalk dining

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey has signed an emergency regulation allowing the city’s restaurants to expand outdoor dining into parking lots, sidewalks and other areas when restaurants are allowed to reopen statewide June 1.

Businesses will have to apply for the temporary changes, but Frey has directed city staff to expedite those applications.

“It is a priority that our bars, restaurants and other spaces of public accommodation be given every opportunity to attract business in a healthy and safe manner and in accordance with previously issued guidelines,” Frey said in the emergency declaration.

Minneapolis is one of a series of cities that is contemplating changes to expand outdoor dining at restaurants after Gov. Tim Walz announced last week a limited restart on June 1.

Asked when restaurants will be allowed to resume indoor dining, Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm was unwilling to say.

"One thing we don’t want to do is say, no matter what those indicators say, we’re going ahead on 'X' date because we said we would," Malcolm told reporters on her daily briefing.

Malcolm said she would "absolutely" be willing to eat on a restaurant's parking lot next week, provided the restaurant required social distancing and people wore masks except to eat.

Also on Tuesday, Bloomington City Council voted 7-0 to let restaurants set up tables in their parking lots and other spaces for the June 1 restart of limited outdoor dining.

Music and tents are allowed, though music must end by 10 p.m.

Restaurant owners can start setting up their outdoor tables now as long as they send in their application by Friday, City Manager Jamie Verbrugge said during Tuesday's council meeting.

"I would say there’s a presumption of approval here," Verbrugge said. "We're trying to provide as much flexibility for operators so that we can get through this period. We don’t have an expectation as far as what the (state Department of Health's) timeline is."

In Minneapolis, the seating expansion includes sidewalks, parking lots or other feasible areas surrounding the businesses as long as ADA requirements are still met.

Along with the outdoor dining, the city has also instituted the following guidelines that mirror state requirements for restaurants:

  • Have a COVID-19 Preparedness Plan that meets state requirements.
  • Maintain 6 feet between tables.
  • Limit occupancy to a maximum of 50 diners.
  • Limit dining party sizes to four people or six people for families.
  • Require reservations.
  • Require employees to wear masks.
  • Patrons are strongly encouraged to wear masks while at the establishment.