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Bars, restaurants urged to follow COVID-19 guidelines or risk second shutdown

A letter from the state's leading hospitality associations follows news from the health department that coronavirus outbreaks were linked to four bars.

ST PAUL, Minn. — Minnesota's leading hospitality associations are urging member bars and restaurants to be vigilant about following state COVID-19 recommendations, or risk a rollback on capacity – or even a second shutdown. 

In an open letter released Wednesday, the Minnesota Licensed Beverage Association, Hospitality Minnesota, and the Minnesota Craft Brewers Association reminded establishment owners of state-issued guidelines they need to follow. They include: 

  • Adopt and implement a COVID-19 Preparedness Plan
  • Ensure a minimum of 6 feet of distance between tables
  • No standing or congregating – people must be seated at tables or the bar
  • Limit indoor occupant capacity to no more than 50% up to 250 persons
  • Do not exceed 250 persons in outdoor spaces
  • Limit table service to 4 persons, or 6 if part of one family unit; 2 if at the bar
  • Require reservations
  • Require workers to wear masks at all times and strongly encourage customers to wear masks when not eating or drinking, especially indoors

The letter follows news from the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) about coronavirus outbreaks at four bars, two in Minneapolis and two in Mankato, plus numerous social media posts of crowded establishments where customers are blatantly not following recommendations on masks and social distancing. 

RELATED: COVID-19 clusters linked to 4 bars in Minneapolis, Mankato

“After bars and restaurants have been closed by executive order for many months, to now working with 50% indoor capacity, one of the very worst things that can happen to our industry is to go backwards," said Tony Chesak, executive director of the Minnesota Licensed Beverage Association. "Industry partners are collaborating to advocate that both customers and business leaders work together to stay focused on helping the industry. And that means following the Executive Orders so we can, as soon as possible, re-open at 100% capacity.”

Association leaders say they are especially concerned about the upcoming July 4 holiday, where friends and family members will be anxious to gather at bars and restaurants. 

“Any deviance from the rules – even by a slim minority of individuals – can threaten the future of our favorite local businesses,” said Lauren Bennett McGinty, executive director of the Minnesota Craft Brewers Guild.  

The open letter reminds members that after the devastating financial impact of Minnesota's Executive Order that kept bars and restaurants closed for nearly three months, many establishments would not survive a second shutdown. 

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