The roller-coaster of COVID restrictions on restaurants, bars, and other entertainment venues once again has gone on the upswing as Minnesota Governor Tim Walz announced an easing of the restrictions on those establishments amid the decline in the number of positive cases state-wide.

In a speech made on Wednesday, Jan. 6, Walz said restaurants and bars would be able to return to offering indoor service, but on a limited basis. Beginning Monday, Jan. 11, bars and restaurants will be able to host up to 50% of their capacity, or a maximum of 150, whichever is smaller. Additionally, Walz encouraged those establishments to keep a limit of no more than six people at a table, along with two people at bar service. Tables should be at least six feet apart. Finally, restaurants and bars are to close at 10 p.m.

Entertainment venues such as bowling alleys and movie theaters will also be able to reopen at 25% capacity, or a maximum of 150 people. Gym capacities have also been increased to those same capacities. Outdoor venues will be allowed 25% capacity, with a maximum of 250 people.

In making these changes in restrictions, Walz commended Minnesotans and especially business owners for making sacrifices in order to bring about the decrease in the number of positive cases. At the same time, he urged everyone to “stay vigilant,” by social distancing, wearing a mask, staying home if they are feeling sick, and to test for COVID for any reason, including simply because they were in a social gathering over the holidays.

Walz noted on a graph how there were two small “bumps” in the number of positive cases, with those corresponding to Thanksgiving and Christmas. He was quick to state that those bumps would have been much higher if the recommended social gathering guidelines were not adhered to.

He concluded by saying if numbers continue to decline, the restrictions on businesses and other social gatherings will also gradually be loosened.

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