Minnesota expands capacity for restaurants, gyms, sports, entertainment
(FOX 9) - Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz is rolling back of some of the state’s COVID-19 restrictions on businesses and large gatherings.
The adjustments to Minnesota's COVID-19 restrictions will go into effect on Monday, March 15. On April 15, Walz is also lifting the requirement that people who can work from home do so, which has been in effect since last spring.
- Bars and restaurants: Increasing allowable occupancy to 75%, up from 50%, with a limit of 250 people. The limits apply separately indoors and outdoors. Bar seating increases to parties of four. Yet parties must remain spaced 6 feet apart, meaning that few restaurants will be able to add more tables in their dining rooms. The Minnesota Licensed Beverage Association, which represents bars, criticized the changes as "only helpful to a small handful of larger establishments." The 11 p.m. bar curfew remains.
- Salons/barbers: Removing the occupancy limit, but social distancing required.
- Gyms/fitness centers/pools: Increasing allowable occupancy to 50%, up from 25%. Outdoor classes can increase to 50 people.
- Entertainment venues: Increasing allowable occupancy to 50%, up from 25%, both indoors and outdoors, with a limit of 250.
- Social gatherings: Up to 50 people outdoors or 15 people for indoor gatherings, both without household limits.
- Youth sports: Pod size increasing to 50 for outdoor activities.
- Religious services: Remove occupancy limit, but social distancing required.
- Celebrations: Follow venue guidance.
As summer nears, the state will adjust guidelines for large venues. Starting April 1, all venues can open at 50% capacity up to 250 people. Venues with normal occupant capacity over 500 can add additional guests.
- Seated outdoor venues can add an additional 25% of their capacity over 500, with a limit of 10,000 people.
- Non-seated outdoor venues can add an additional 15% of their capacity over 500, with a limit of 10,000 people.
- Seated indoor venues can add an additional 15% of their capacity over 500, with a limit of 3,000 people.
- Non-seated indoor venues can add an additional 10% of their capacity over 500, with a limit of 1,500 people.
The Twins can have 25% capacity, or 10,000 fans. That puts Minnesota generally in line with what other MLB teams are allowed.
This rollback comes as Minnesota expanded vaccine eligibility to an additional 1.8 million people this week after the state reached its goal of vaccinating more than 70% of seniors.
Walz said the one thing that could hamper this rollback is a large outbreak of new, more contagious COVID-19 variants.
The highly contagious UK variant is spreading in Carver County, leading the state to open a new COVID-19 testing site on Thursday at the Chanhassen Rec Center.
Health officials say most of the cases of the UK variant are linked to youth sports. They want sports to pause for two weeks in Carver County and are asking student athletes across the state to get tested at least once a week.
On Thursday, the first case of a COVID-19 variant from South Africa was confirmed in Minnesota. The person got sick in late January after being exposed to someone who traveled internationally.