'Phased plans' for reopening Minnesota bars, restaurants to be announced Wednesday

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz and his administrative leaders will announce "phased plans" for reopening bars, restaurants and other places of accommodation Wednesday, the state's economic development commissioner said. The announcement will be broadcast live at 3 p.m. on FOX 9 and streaming at fox9.com/live and the FOX 9 News App.

Commissioner Steve Grove said in a tweet that state officials would use key public health factors as guideposts for reopening decisions, including:

  • How close you are to another person 
  • How long you are in close proximity to another person
  • How predicable the setting is regarding maintaining social distancing

Gov. Walz first hinted at the announcement on Monday, which he said would mark a "pathway" to reopening. Walz said last week that his goal was a June 1 reopening for bars and restaurants, and said his administration would take a week to develop guidance.

But he later said June 1 was not a "magic" date. It is also unclear what conditions the businesses will have to follow. Walz said the state will have testing, tracing and more isolation of the virus by then, allowing for these businesses to open at some capacity.

The case against reopening restaurants now

Although many owners have been desperate to open their doors for weeks now, some aren’t comfortable with taking that step. 

Cynthia Gerdes, the founder of the popular restaurant Hell’s Kitchen in downtown Minneapolis, says she won’t be open for dine-in customers anytime soon. She says it’s both a financial and health decision.

“Financially, it didn’t make sense. Safety wise, it didn’t make sense; customers didn’t make sense,” Gerdes said. “I don’t feel safe out there yet and that’s what the fourth thing is: Do we feel safe out there? And we don’t.”

Gym gets warning call from sheriff

Title Boxing Club in Arden Hills said they held a five person class at the gym on Monday, going against the governor’s order. Then they got a call from the sheriff’s office warning them they’d be fined if they held another class.

FOX 9 first spoke with the owner and manager of Title Boxing Club last month when they were in fear of losing their clubs. Three weeks later, the fear is still there.

Judge blocks bar owner from opening against order

A bar owner in Stearns County backed down from his plans to reopen the six establishments Monday against the governor’s Stay Safe MN executive order. Kris Schiffler, had planned to open his chain of Shady’s bars and restaurants at noon on Monday. Instead, he told a large crowd gathered outside Shady’s Hometown Tavern in Albany he cannot open at noon as planned, saying his lawyers have told him not to contest Attorney General Keith Ellison’s demands.

"The risk isn’t worth the reward at the end of the day," Schiffler told FOX 9.  

On Monday, a Stearns County judge issued the temporary restraining order sought by Ellison, blocking Schiffler from opening his businesses. 


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