Governor Tim Walz today (2 pm) is expected to announce the loosening of restrictions on bars, restaurants and entertainment venues. Walz will allow in-door restaurant dining at 50-percent capacity with a limit of 150 and a 10 pm service cut-off. Under the new guidance, restaurants will be able to seat up to six people per table, with tables spaced six feet apart. Bars will be able to seat open parties of two also with tables spaced six feet apart. Walz says “the situation in Minnesota is undeniably better than it was last month. We have reasons to be optimistic, and Minnesotans’ sacrifice and commitment to their communities helped change the pandemic’s trajectory and saved lives. But we need to protect the progress we’ve made.” All the changes will be in effect on Monday. The announcement comes as tens of thousands of Minnesotans have received their first dose of the vaccine, COVID-19 cases are down, hospital bed use is declining, and kids are heading back to the classroom. Here are more details of the governor’s loosened restrictions:
· Gym capacity remains capped at 25 percent but maximum capacity increases to 150 and classes can increase to 25 people, assuming distancing can be observed. Machines and people must maintain 9 feet of distance. Face coverings are required.
· Outdoor events and entertainment continue at 25 percent capacity, but maximum capacity increases to 250 people. Social distancing is required.
· Indoor events and entertainment – like bowling alleys, movie theaters, and museums – may open at 25 percent, with no more than 150 people in each area of the venue. Face coverings are required, and they may not offer food service after 10 p.m.
· Youth and adult organized sports have resumed practice as of January 4 and games resume January 14 with spectators, following the appropriate capacity limits for indoor or outdoor venues. Inter-region tournaments and out of state play are discouraged.
· Pools opened on January 4 for some activity and may now open, like gyms, at 25 percent capacity.
· Wedding receptions and other private parties may resume with limits. If food and drink are served at the event, then they are limited to two households or 10 people indoors and 3 households or 15 people outdoors. If there is no food or drink, they are covered by event venue guidelines. Any related ceremony – like a wedding or funeral ceremony – is guided by rules for ceremonies and places of worship.
· Places of worship remain open at 50% capacity but without an overall maximum capacity.