Minneapolis, St. Paul requiring proof of COVID vaccination for restaurants, bars

Minneapolis and St. Paul officials provided an update on each cities’ response to addressing the recent increase in COVID-19 cases during a virtual press conference Wednesday, 

Mayors Jacob Frey and Melvin Carter announced their respective cities would institute a proof of vaccination or negative test taken within 72 hours for customers at all places where food and/or drink is sold or served indoors for consumption, effective Jan. 19, 2022. The emergency regulation includes ticketed stadium events, but schools and hospitals are exempt.  

COVID-19 vaccine mandates in Minnesota: What to know

"Data is exceedingly clear that more is needed to keep our cities safe," Frey said during the announcement. "This is a critical next step to avoid closures. We want to stay open, but we want to stay safer… This is the next best step for employees and visitors to stay safe."

Home rapid tests will not be accepted, and "vaccinated" is defined as the entire vaccination course, meaning both doses completed. A PCR test will be accepted, if supervised in-person. 

Frey noted that he recognized the mandate would add another layer of responsibilities to restaurant and bar owners. Locations that provide takeout service only will also be exempt.  

According to Erik Hansen, director of economic policy and development for the City of Minneapolis, business outreach prior to the decision included polling of community organization and businesses. 

"The intent is not go in with a heavy hand, but allow our businesses to stay open," Frey said. "As far as enforcement goes and how it will function, generally it will be complaint based."

MORE: Vaccine mandate has restaurant owners divided

"We need to take every step that we can to fight the growing impact of this pandemic," Carter said. "We have more tools in our toolbox than ever before, and together we can help prevent the spread [of COVID] and ensure we’re part of the solution… Only by working together can we all help prevent the spread of COVID and keep our economy moving forward."

Carter noted that in St. Paul, the mandates would take effect on Jan. 19 for non-ticketed events, and Jan. 26 for ticketed events. 

"This regulation we believe helps protect the health of business owners and patrons alike, while still keeping these businesses open," Hansen said. 

"We really want to encourage people to get vaccinated – that will be the safest way to get into these events," Interim Minneapolis Health Commissioner Heidi Ritchie said. 

List: Twin Cities school districts temporarily suspend in-person learning amid rising COVID cases

Vax mandate impact on children

In Minneapolis, the vaccine requirement does not apply to children under the age of five.

Those between the ages of two and five in Minneapolis were initially subjected to the testing requirements when the mandate was announced Wednesday. However, Mayor Frey eliminated that requirement Friday, prior to the start of the mandate Jan. 19.

In St. Paul, all children under the age of five are not included in the vaccine mandate.

Minnesota Licensed Beverage Association responds

Minnesota Licensed Beverage Association Executive Director Tony Chesak responded to the new requirements Wednesday evening:

"We understand the seriousness of COVID and the public health for the community, patrons, and employees. The hospitality industry has complied with all the mandates, regulations, and more for COVID. But it’s hard to understand a vaccination mandate that’s unjustified and unscientific. It targets just one specific industry after zero science or data driving the decision, and zero caring about our dedicated front-line workers who will now add 'enforcement agent' to their plates. The only scientific thing we know is that it has devastated the hospitality industry in other cities with these same mandates.
"They say we’re in this together - but this mandate shows that the hospitality industry is clearly targeted alone. We know both vaccinated and unvaccinated people spread the virus. And it happens at schools, work-out facilities, other retailers, sporting events, and more."

MORE: Not just restaurants and bars, the vaccine mandate impacts other businesses too

Target Center statement

Target Center in downtown Minneapolis provided the following statement to FOX 9:

The City of Minneapolis Emergency Regulation No. 2022-4 requires that all guests of Target Center show proof of a completed vaccination series against COVID-19 or proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR or antigen test conducted by a medical professional within three days prior to entry. This Regulation is in effect for Target Center ticketed events beginning on January 26, 2022. 

Target Center will continue to enforce the existing city-wide mask mandate which requires all individuals, regardless of vaccination status, to wear a face covering, except when eating or drinking. 

Target Center operates in accordance with all State and local guidelines, while providing a safe environment for our guests and employees through our ASM Global VenueShield program. We are committed to working with local officials and event promoters to further explore how this Regulation will impact future events. We will continue to provide the latest health and safety protocols and policies applicable to Target Center at www.TargetCenter.com

RELATED: Minneapolis, St. Paul reinstate indoor mask mandates

Impact on Minnesota Wild home games

After the announcement, the Minnesota Wild made the following statement regarding events at the Xcel Energy Center in downtown St. Paul:

"As a result of the COVID restrictions announced today by Mayor Melvin Carter and the City of Saint Paul, all fans age 5 and older attending events at Xcel Energy Center starting on Wednesday, Jan. 26 will either need to furnish proof of a completed vaccination series against COVID-19 or proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken under medical supervision within 72 hours of entry. COVID booster shots are not required. All fans will continue to be required to wear a face covering at all times inside the arena, except when eating or drinking. We will continue to comply with state and local guidelines in the best interests of health and safety."