Restaurants reopen outdoor dining in Minnesota as COVID-19 restrictions are relaxed

Outdoor service is allowed under changes that went in effect on Saturday for Minnesota's COVID-19 pause. (FOX 9)

Plenty of people made their way out for the day as Minnesota relaxed restrictions on restaurants, allowing outdoor dining during the pandemic.

Despite the cold weather, our crews saw plenty of foot traffic at several businesses in the metro.

"We are very excited to be able to sit outside be at a restaurant and have a little bit of normalcy," said customer Kristin Kapsen.

"Today definitely helps pay some bills," said Jason Hostetler with the Anoka Hardware Store Speakeasy.

Owners have had to quickly get creative after the governor’s announcement on Wednesday that his new executive order would start Saturday.

"We just started putting our heads together," said Kimberly Field Stone with 201 Tavern. "Like, what can we do for this and that’s when the city got involved with us and it’s just been amazing."

201 Tavern in Anoka says the city shut down part of the street, and helped set up outdoor tables and fire pits for the restaurant and the speakeasy next door.

"We’ll do whatever we need to do to help support Anoka," said customer Lana Fussy.

The new order says outdoor dining must be at 50 percent capacity and up to 100 people, with no more than four per table. The interest from customers was beyond what was expected.

"We’re doing the best we can to tell people stop pulling the tables together - obviously wear your mask, please social distance, stay on the sidewalk," said Hostetler.

So the owners say they’ll work to figure out some other ways of crowd control for the future.

"We'll get together tonight and see what we can do for the next coming days to control it," said Field Stone. "A little more but, like Bill said, we have about 80 seats."

The new order also puts a curfew on outdoor dining and says things have to be wrapped up by 10 p.m. nightly. The executive order goes through 11:59 p.m. on January 10.