Coronavirus and COVID-19: Stay Informed, Be Prepared

We are monitoring the evolving situation with the Coronavirus and the spread COVID-19 cases by engaging our national partner organizations, State and local public health officials, and our member partners to bring you the latest updates and anticipated impact. Check all our media channels for alerts for new posts: bookmark this webpage, watch your email inbox, connect with us on Facebook , YouTube and LinkedIn.

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MARCH 12, 2021

Governor Walz issued Executive Order 21-11, which allows for expanded capacity for restaurants and bars, events, pools and other spaces beginning at noon on Monday, March 15. This movement forward is consistent with our advocacy push over the past three months.

 

Our work together to push the Administration on a roadmap to recovery, along with bipartisan legislation, and a repeated drumbeat with MN media publicly and behind the scenes has paid off in this move today.

It is a win for Hospitality Minnesota and our members, especially in the events and lodging space, and our work to call for a clear plan for full reopening will not stop. REOPENING GUIDANCE

FEBRUARY 12, 2021

Updated Guidance has been posted to the StaySafeMN website, including:

 

As we have been urging, Governor Walz announced additional dial adjustments today. We are grateful for a positive response to our advocacy.

 

Executive order 21-07 will go into effect at noon on Saturday, February 13. Highlights of the changes announced today include:

  • Allowing up to 50 people, with social distancing, at private events, such as parties, celebrations, weddings and funerals at venues. The occupancy limit of 25% remains in place. These events may not occur between 11:00 p.m. (a change from 10:00 p.m.) and 4:00 a.m.

  • Increasing indoor seated and non-seated entertainment occupancy limits 250 people in each separate area, with a total max of 1,250 people, while maintaining social distancing. Food and beverage consumption is extended to 11:00. 

  • Extending outdoor entertainment food and beverage consumption to 11:00pm.  

  • Extending onsite dining hours to 11:00pm, for any establishment that serves food. Takeout may occur after 11:00pm.  

  • Increasing the cap on bars and restaurants to 250 people inside and 250 outside, up from 150 in both locations. The occupancy limit of no more than 50% of established capacity remains in place.  

  • Expanding capacity in gyms, fitness centers and pools to 250, with the 25% capacity limit and social distancing of 6 feet remaining in place.

 

We had the opportunity to review the dial adjustments on the 2:30 Roundtable call with Commissioner Grove today, and we will continue pushing for full expansion by May 1, as laid out in the Road to Recovery plan introduced earlier this week when we meet with the Commissioner this week.

Hospitality Minnesota CEO Liz Rammer release the following statement on the dial adjustment, following the Governor's announcement:

 

The Governor’s announcement today provides some welcome news of limited changes to current operational restrictions. The hospitality industry appreciates the ability to move forward and continues to be committed to operating safely to protect the public’s health. With virus-related numbers trending in the right direction, these modest adjustments need to serve as the starting point for a more comprehensive, methodical framework for moving our state’s devastated hospitality businesses back to full operation. The roadmap put forward earlier this week by Representative Baker is a reasonable, balanced concept that outlines a phased approach with clear guideposts for decision-making. We hope Governor Walz and his administration will work with Representative Baker and other legislative and hospitality industry leaders to formalize this plan so that Minnesota’s year-round and seasonal businesses can get ready for a healthy and prosperous spring and summer.

JANUARY 6

Good News on Opening!  Executive Order 20-21

The hospitality industry received good news from Governor Walz announcing a loosening of restrictions across many types of venues, effective at midnight on January 11. Underscoring the importance of continuing to practice and enforce all safe operating protocols, Governor Walz highlighted the following changes:

•Restaurants may open to 50%, with a maximum of 150 inside and 150 outside

•Reservations required for inside and outside service

•Parties at tables restricted to 6 individuals, with six feet between parties

•Bar seating in parties of two, with six feet of distance between parties

•All venues must be closed for food and beverage service by 10pm

•Pools, including water parks may open to 25% capacity using social distancing, with a maximum of 150

•Fitness centers and gyms may open to 25% capacity using social distancing of 9ft, with maximum of 150 people and 25 people per class

•Bowling alleys, movie theaters, museums can open at 25% using social distancing, with a maximum of 150 people per confined space

•Indoor events and entertainment are permitted at 25% capacity using social distancing, with a maximum of 150 people

•Large venues can open to 25% with social distancing and an overall maximum of 750 people

•Outdoor events and entertainment permitted at 25% capacity using social distancing, with a maximum of 250

•The mask mandate remains in place

 

Governor Walz ended today’s Roundtable with operators by saying, “I got asked the other day if I feel comfortable going back to a restaurant and my answer was absolutely because of the work that you've done.” 

Specific GUIDANCE HERE

 

DECEMBER 22

HR133 passed by an overwhelming majority in both chambers today. The National Restaurant Association and the American Hotel and Lodging Association have both prepared a breakdown of the bill, which includes many of the top priorities we have been advocating for in this second round of federal relief.

Summary of Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2021

Full Text of Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2021

 

DECEMBER 16

Closure Extended to January 11:

Executive Order 20-103 will begin at 11:59 p.m. Friday, Dec. 18, 2020, and remain in place until 11:59 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 10, 2021.

 

Executive Order 20-103, Section 7 vi outlines that "restaurants, food courts, cafes, coffeehouses, bars, taverns, breweries, microbreweries, distilleries, brewer taprooms, micro distiller cocktail rooms, tasting rooms, wineries, cideries, clubhouses, dining clubs, tobacco product shops, hookah bars, cigar bars, vaping lounges, and other Places of Public Accommodation offering food, beverages (including alcoholic beverages), or tobacco products for on-premises consumption must remain closed for indoor service, but may provide outdoor service if they adhere to the applicable guidance available at Stay Safe MN."

As news of the Governor's planned announcement began leaking out late last night, we formulated the following statement to send to the media first thing this morning, attaching the letter urging reopening that we'd sent to Governor Walz earlier in the week.

 

With the news coming from the media, we are gravely disappointed by the Governor’s decision to extend the closure of restaurants into the new year. Since March, we have been at the table, in good faith, making the case that hospitality businesses are able to operate safely, balancing public health and economic viability. The state’s very own data supports our case, and they have been unwilling and unable to show us the analysis that says otherwise. As you will see in the attached letter we, again, made an ardent plea to the Governor to allow businesses to open up to 50% when the most recent closure order was set to expire on Friday.

 

Today’s plea to the Governor is to reconsider his decision to extend the closure. The tide is turning, as we have witnessed all week as more and more businesses are willing out of desperation to risk fines and penalties to save their livelihoods. Hospitality is a force for good in our communities, and the Governor and his administration would be wise to leverage that force, rather than watch it flicker out. 

Liz Rammer

President and CEO

Hospitality Minnesota

 

We are continuing to press the Governor to reconsider this extension to the shutdown.

DECEMBER 15

Minnesota Legislature Passes Bipartisan $215 Million Relief Package. Last evening, the governor and legislators finalized a bipartisan economic relief program based on the work of Hospitality Minnesota, with input from our members and Board. The bill passed the Senate 62-4 and the House 117-13.

We thank the governor and the authors, Sen. Eric Pratt and Rep. Tim Mahoney, as well as Rep. Dave Baker who played a monumental roll in the negotiations.

 

While the bill is not perfect, it strikes the important balance of providing swift direct financial aid to a large number of distressed hospitality businesses, followed by a county-based program with the flexibility to fill in certain funding gaps, such as assistance to support lodging properties. This state aid will hopefully act as a bridge until Congress passes needed federal relief.

Full Details HERE

NOVEMBER 18

During a televised address, Governor Walz issued Executive Order 20-99, which will go into effect at 11:59pm on Friday, November 20. It lasts until 11:59pm on Friday, December 18.

 

The impact is grave, and during the closure includes:

  • Restaurants and bars are closed to the public, except for take-out and delivery. Up to five customers may be inside for pick-up at any time.

  • Indoor events and entertainment are closed to the public.

  • Outdoor events and entertainment are closed to the public.

 

  • Wedding and funeral ceremonies can still be held in places of worship, following current rules.

  • All receptions and gatherings associated with celebrating these life events must be cancelled or postponed.

  • Reception spaces for celebrations and private parties are closed.

  • Campgrounds and charter boats remain open with guidance, though gatherings is allowed with immediate household members only.

  • Large public gatherings over 250 people are closed.

  • Pools and swim parks are closed.

 

You can read the full, relevant Guidance on:

 

NOVEMBER 10

Governor Walz has ordered that beginning Friday, November 13 at 10:00 p.m., new restrictions will apply to social gatherings, celebrations and receptions, and bars and restaurants, which are three of the most significant sources of COVID-19 outbreaks across the state.  

 

Beginning Friday at 10:00 p.m.: 

 

  • There will be a 10-person limit for indoor and outdoor gatherings, and all social gatherings will be limited to members of three households or less.  
     

  • Restaurants and bars must be closed from 10:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m. with a capacity cap of 150 patrons total, including both inside and outside settings, and table size will be limited to 10 people with strong guidance to keep it to no more than three households or less. Bar counter service will be closed for seating and service in all establishments besides those that only have counter service. In counter-service only establishments, patrons can line up (with masks) and then return to their table. 
     

  • Patrons at bars must be seated, and there are no bar games allowed such as darts and pool. If an establishment offers pull tabs, they must be offered in a socially distanced queue.  

 

  • Capacity limits for receptions related to celebrations and milestone events, including weddings, funerals, birthdays, reunions, anniversaries and private parties in venues will be limited to 50 total people starting November 27, and 25 total people starting December 11. Celebrations must end at 10:00 p.m. This does not apply to the ceremony itself, since data has not shown a connection between services and the recent increase in outbreaks. 
     

  • All current restrictions also remain in effect. 

For more information, you can view the updated guidance.

 

Hospitality Minnesota has provided the following statement in response to media inquiries:

This continues to be a devastating time for the hospitality industry that provides one-in-ten jobs in Minnesota, but now sees half of its businesses facing permanent closure in the coming months. While we appreciate that the governor is not shutting down restaurants, bars and events as some other states are doing, we are concerned about the economic and jobs impact on these businesses. This industry has worked extraordinarily hard to protect its public and follow the safety protocols, which is reflected by the fact that only a small fraction of cases is currently affiliated with these spaces. As our governor noted today ‘our hospitality industry has done more than anyone.' We all need to work together to balance protecting our economy and public health as we go forward.

OCTOBER 8

Governor Walz announced an update to the Guidance for restaurants, which now allows up to 10 unrelated guests at one table in restaurants. All other provisions -- 50% capacity, a limit of 4 guests per party in a bar, and that all guests must be seated -- remain in effect.

 

In sharing today's decision, Commission Grove said, "Minnesotans have a strong sense of the common good. They know that taking commonsense health and safety steps help to slow the spread of COVID19, and in turn save lives. This change to allow more people at a table or in a party is based on this strong sense of personal responsibility to our community and, we are confident that Minnesotans – young and old – will do the right thing to keep themselves and others safe."

 

Hospitality Minnesota has provided the following statement in response to media inquiries:

Today’s decision to now allow 10 guests at a table in restaurants is a step forward, which we’ve heard will help some operators as the patio season winds down and we approach the holidays. We continue to advocate for safely increasing capacity and revenue, and the governor has indicated he is continuing to review our requests. We all need to work together to help save this industry and the 1 in 10 Minnesota jobs it provides. With over half of restaurants and 30% of hotels facing permanent closure in the coming months, Minnesota needs a comprehensive strategy and we will continue to do everything we can to work on a path forward.

AUGUST 28

We've been keeping a close watch on COVID-19 case data to support our continuous, strong advocacy with state officials for further expansion of capacity and other supports needed across the industry.

As reported by the Star Tribune, MDH has correlated 924 cases with visits to restaurants or bars this summer. These are cases where the Department assumes transmission occurred at a bar or restaurant but has not proven causation. Over the same period of time there have been over 45,900 cases identified in Minnesota. This means that 98% of transmission occurred in settings outside of restaurants or bars.

KEY TAKEAWAY: The Governor’s June 10 dial turn has not led to a significant spike in COVID-19 cases in this sector. Our state, its operators and its patrons have effectively mitigated the public health risk, while allowing critical expanded economic activity.

 

Additional data is available in this report.

JULY 22

Governor Tim Walz has issued Executive Order 20-81, calling for a statewide mask mandate that will go into effect on Saturday, July 25.

To help with compliance, state officials have released face covering recommendations and requirements. Some highlights include:

• The public must now wear masks indoors, and outdoors when waiting in lines for service when social distancing is not possible.
• Children under 5 and individuals with health conditions that make wearing a mask difficult are exempt.
• Masks are required for workers indoors, and outdoors when they cannot maintain appropriate social distance. They are not required when individuals are working alone.
• In restaurants, masks must be worn by all occupants when entering, moving about and leaving an establishment. They are not required while eating or drinking.
• Businesses are encouraged to post clear signage to guests about the mandate. Businesses are not required, though may elect, to refuse service to a patron not wearing a mask.

The State will be distributing 4 million disposable masks through local chambers of commerce across the state. Contact your local chamber if you would like a supply of disposable masks for patrons who don't have one with them.

JULY 1

Today, in partnership with the Minnesota Licensed Beverage Association and Minnesota Craft Brewers Guild issued a press release to build greater awareness and commitment to the guidelines. Our industry's survival is dependent on every operator following the safety guidelines and engaging their customers to do the same. "By doing our part to maintain social distancing and wearing a mask in bars and restaurants, we show respect for each other's safety and support of our favorite businesses ability to continue operation,” stated Liz Rammer, Hospitality Minnesota CEO in the release. 

 

The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce and the State of Minnesota have offered free, downloadable signage for you to use to engage guests in complying with safety guidelines.

 

JUNE 5

Hospitality businesses across Minnesota received welcomed news with Governor Walz’ announcement that restaurants can open on June 10 for indoor dining at 50% capacity, capped at 250. This is a positive step toward the long and difficult economic recovery of these small businesses.

 

Likewise, our lodging, resort and campground businesses can open their pools at 50% capacity, along with other amenities, that will allow them to accommodate guests and stem cancellations and revenue loss.

 

The long shutdown has been crippling for many owners/operators, and it will take our collective efforts to support these businesses as they work to rebuild the public’s confidence in venturing out. Our industry looks forward to safely welcoming its employees and customers back.

 

Already reeling from the pandemic, Minnesota is also facing another long recovery from the events of the past weeks. Our hospitality businesses are uniquely suited to help bring people together and reweave the fabric of our communities. Reopening them more fully—and safely-- will foster economic recovery, promote public mental health and well-being, and help to revitalize our communities’ civic life.

Also announced today, ALL businesses will now be required to have a completed  a preparedness plan  by June 29. Current practices do not to stop or pause until the plan is completed. State agencies will have additional guidance for preparing plans are expected no later than June 15. We’ll post those as they are made available.

JUNE 2

Knowing from the Department of Employment and Economic Development, the Department of Health and the Department of Natural Resources that decisions are made by the Governor’s Office, and not at the agency level, we need members to weigh in and make your voice heard by contacting Governor Walz:
 
Telephone:  ‪651-201-3400‬
Toll Free:  ‪800-657-3717‬

https://mn.gov/governor/contact/

Here’s why.

Yesterday, restaurants and lodging facilities were allowed to begin offering limited patio and outdoor seating for food and beverage service.  This is not sufficient, so we have been working for weeks  (
letter to Gov. Walz and safety protocol) to safely re-open our hospitality businesses.  Our current efforts, needing swift action, are focused on:

  1. Allowing in-dining (Hospitality Minnesota Star Tribune Board Op-Ed) at restaurants and bars, beginning at 50% capacity immediately or at ‪June 8 at the very latest;

  2. Opening private indoor and outdoor pools at lodging facilities and campgrounds consistent with CDC guidance on safety and utilizing smart capacity limitations for social distancing; and

  3. Opening fitness centers and recreational play areas at lodging facilities and campgrounds with fair and clear guidelines for enhanced sanitation and promotion of social distancing.


Minnesota’s hospitality and tourism industry needs the government to make these changes swiftly.  We are in danger of losing critical businesses and jobs and we are exporting revenue by the day to nearby states that have already relaxed limitations.  The State must act now on these three items.

MAY 20

As part of today’s announcement, the State released guidance for restaurants and bars, as well as outdoor recreation, including campgrounds.

 

In light of the Governor’s announcement that restaurants can open to very limited outdoor seating beginning on June 1, Liz Rammer released the following media statement:

“The news today was surprising and disappointing especially given the many conversations we’ve been having with the Governor and the Hospitality Roundtable convened by DEED Commissioner Grove. While it’s good for those restaurants that are able to offer outdoor seating, it will leave many behind around our state who cannot host patrons in an outdoor patio setting. Many of our operators have begun to hire back their staff to use their PPP loan money and ordering products for reopening on June 1, so this is another disastrous setback for them.

 

As these businesses stare into the face of financial collapse, today’s announcement further delays the incoming revenue these small businesses need to survive. If these businesses are being asked to remain closed or mostly closed, then they need the State’s help with a targeted relief package that provides the support our businesses need to navigate this financial catastrophe.

 

It's also disappointing to hear that there has been no accommodation made for opening recreational RV camping at private campgrounds in time for Memorial Weekend – one of the biggest revenue opportunities of our campgrounds short 100-day season. RV campers offer natural social distancing, providing families with a self-contained unit for their weekend experience in the great MN outdoors. We have been advocating for a phased approach to permit these cabins on wheels the green light for the important holiday weekend.”

Campgrounds will be able to open on June 1, as can salons and barber shops, with limitations.

MAY 13

Governor Walz announced that the current Stay at Home order (EO 20-20/20-33) will be allowed to expire on May 18, and we'll begin Stay Safe Minnesota, urging Minnesotans to continue practicing COVID-19 prevention through personal hygiene and social distancing, and discouraging all nonessential travel.

 

While it comes as no surprise, but with real disappointment, restaurants, bars and places of public accommodation will remain closed until June 1. We are, however, glad that an opening date has been identified and with the promise that the reopening guidance from the State will be available by May 20. See our full report HERE.​

MAY 6

Hospitality Minnesota is leading a coalition of hospitality organizations, including the Minnesota Licensed Beverage Association, the Community of Minnesota Resorts and the Minnesota Craft Brewers Guild, to bring attention to the peril our industry faces and urge federal, state and local officials to work together to take action providing targeted relief. A  press release  sent to media outlets around the state this morning tells of the anticipated economic devastation if relief does not come soon. More information and updates can be found on our #SaveHospitality campaign page.

APRIL 30

Governor Tim Walz has extended the Stay-at-Home order until May 18. However, some restrictions for retailers have been loosened. 

APRIL 22

For Resorts, RV Resorts and Campgrounds from the Department of Administration

Hospitality Minnesota has been fighting for campgrounds and resorts to be able to open safely, as well as to obtain clarity about their ability to operate (including seasonal renters). Consistent with our prior communications, the Department of Administration has now issued written guidance. We will continue our advocacy and communications efforts on allowing the expansion of safe operations as we go forward.

APRIL 17

Today, the MN House, on a vote of 129-1, has passed “Alcohol-to-Go” legislation. We’ve been pushing on this issue since the closure. The bill goes next to the Governor for signature and goes into effect the next day. **For instance, if the bill is signed tonight, you can begin selling beer, cider, hard seltzer and wine tomorrow.

APRIL 8

Today the Governor extended his “Stay-at-Home” order through May 4 and moves the Executive Order 20-04 limiting restaurants and other business from May 1 to May 4. This puts it in alignment with Stay-at-Home and the previously announced school closure.

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