On June 1, Minnesota restaurants may allow outdoor dining, salons can partially open

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz is letting bars and restaurants reopen to outdoor dining on June 1, part of a slow-going approach to restarting the state's economy in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

The bars and restaurants are only allowed to reopen their patios with a 50-customer maximum capacity. Hair salons, tattoo parlors and barbershops will also reopen in a limited way. But thousands of other businesses will remained closed outright, and churches will remain severely limited.

"In a time of great uncertainty, how we conduct ourselves is the one thing we can control," Walz told reporters at a Wednesday afternoon news conference.

But there was a distinct change in the tone of the reactions after Walz's news conference. Several groups that had previously stood by Walz -- or, at least, held their fire -- openly criticized him. 

Restaurant trade group Hospitality Minnesota and the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce said they were disappointed by the governor's announcement. Hospitality Minnesota said outdoor dining would not work for restaurants without patio seating.

"This is another disastrous setback for them," said Ann Kirby McGill, a spokeswoman. 

Chamber of Commerce President Doug Loon said, "We hoped the governor would take more meaningful steps today."

Restaurants must limit seating to no more than 50 people at a time. Tables should be placed six feet apart, and workers must wear masks.

Salons, tattoo parlors and barbershops may open at 25 percent of capacity. Customers must wear masks, make reservations, and adhere to social distancing requirements to keep themselves, other customers and employees safe.

Campgrounds can reopen with social distancing measures in place. Youth sports games are not allowed, though teams can practice with less than 10 people.

Gyms, movie theaters, bowling alleys and other entertainment venues will remain closed. Churches are still restricted to 10 or fewer people, either in or outdoors.

Late Wednesday, the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis and two chapters of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod said they would allow services to resume later this month, defying Walz's order.

The Walz administration laid out two future phases for reopening, but neither Walz nor economic development commissioner Steve Grove provided a timeline for when that would happen. 

Republican lawmakers who have long called on Walz to reopen all businesses questioned his latest decisions.

"What is the science that allows indoor salon services, but restricts restaurants to outdoor seating?" said House Republican Leader Kurt Daudt in an emailed statement. "Why are churches limited to 10 people outdoors while hundreds of people can gather in the aisles of big box stores?"

Walz was asked about the criticism.

"I get it, there’s a group of people who say this is no big deal, open up the restaurants. The science out there doesn’t agree with that," he said.


March 6: MDH confirms first case of COVID-19 in Minnesota

March 11: World Health Organization declares outbreak of COVID-19 a pandemic

March 13: Gov. Walz declares peacetime state of emergency, recommending all large gathering be canceled or postponed 

March 15: MDH confirms first COVID-19 cases caused by community spread 

March 17: Gov. Walz orders dine-in restaurants, bars, hair salons and other public attractions to close 

March 18: All public schools in Minnesota close 

March 27: Stay-at-home order goes into effect, set to expire on April 10

April 8: Gov. Walz extends stay-at-home order until May 4 

April 13: Gov. Walz extends peacetime emergency through May 13

April 24: Gov. Walz closes schools for remainder of academic year

April 27: Some non-essential industrial and manufacturing businesses allowed to reopen

April 30: Gov. Walz extends stay-at-home order until May 18

May 13: New 'Stay Safe MN' order to allow small social gatherings, retail stores to reopen at 50% capacity

May 18: Stay-at-home order expires. Here's what you can do under Stay Safe MN order