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New bar and restaurant rules: Patios, masks, and social distancing

Under Minnesota's new rules, you'll be able to enjoy outdoor drinking and dining... and with plenty of space on either side.

Under Minnesota's new rules, you'll be able to enjoy outdoor drinking and dining... and with plenty of space on either side. Aaron Lavinsky, Star Tribune

Minnesota's bars and restaurants can reopen in June.

The experience won't be anything like you were used to before coronavirus.

Gov. Tim Walz announced the conditions required for reopening June 1 on Wednesday afternoon. Among the new rules in place:

  • Service will be restricted to outdoor seating, and restricted to tables spaced six feet apart;
  • No sitting at the bar;
  • No more than 50 customers seated at a time;
  • Parties no larger than four people per table, or six, for families;
  • Reservations are required;
  • Masks would be mandatory for restaurant staff, and are "strongly recommended for customers," according to a fact sheet that accompanied Walz's announcement.

Restaurants have been closed from on-site service since March 17

Walz called bars and restaurants "fixtures" that "make life just a little bit better" for Minnesotans.

"They are integral, and not just to our economy," said Walz, who called dining out something that "makes living in Minnesota so great." 

Walz also announced Wednesday that salons, barbershops, and tattoo parlors could reopen, though only at 25 percent of their normal capacity. For those businesses, masks are required for both workers and customer alike.

Non-essential retail businesses were allowed to reopen effective Monday, though only at 50 percent capacity; at the same time, the state's "stay-at-home" requirement lapsed, and small gatherings (fewer than 10 people) were allowed. 

A so-called "phase III" would see bars and restaurants reopen for indoor service "with capacity restrictions and social distancing requirements" and "increased capacity" allowed for retail, hair, and tattoo businesses. That's also when gyms, bowling alleys, and movie theaters would get the OK to start operating again.

Walz didn't give a hint Wednesday on how long this phase of the plan will last. 

All Minnesotans who can work remotely must continue to do so, and will during the next phase of reopening the state as well.

We'll update this post as more information becomes available.