Walz Eases Coronavirus Restrictions, Again

Beginning June 10, bars and restaurants will be able to operate at 50 percent capacity; gyms can open at 25 percent.

Walz Eases Coronavirus Restrictions, Again
(Photo by Caitlin Abrams)

For the first time since March, bars and restaurants next week will be able to serve a limited number of customers indoors. Under a new executive order issued Friday, Gov. Tim Walz has allowed restaurants to operate at 50 percent capacity starting June 10. They’ll be limited to a maximum capacity of 250 people.

The governor’s prior executive order only allowed bars and restaurants to serve customers outdoors.

Salons and pools, meanwhile, will be able to open at 50 percent, too. The new order also gives gyms and fitness centers the green light to open at 25 percent capacity. Fitness industry leaders had been frustrated when they were left out of the governor’s prior order. But the latest order appears more amenable to Minnesota gyms. Chanhassen-based Life Time Fitness, which has already reopened 60 of its 150 clubs in other states, said it’s ready to resume operations in Minnesota. 

“Reopening Life Time with enhanced health and safety protocols, we believe, is in the best interest of our members’ physical and mental health, and will empower them to take control of their health through exercise, proper nutrition and lifestyle changes to boost their immune systems,” said Life Time Chief Operating Officer Jeff Zwiefel in a news release.

The Minnesota Chamber has also welcomed the lifting of restrictions, but asked for more clarity about next steps. In a statement, president Doug Loon asked the governor to let all Minnesota businesses open by June 19.

“Knowing that they could reopen or increase customer capacity on a certain date would help small businesses start to refuel our economy, and safely welcome back their employees and customers,” Loon said.

In a Friday news conference, state officials seemed hesitant to jump too far ahead. Health commissioner Jan Malcolm said the state “absolutely understands” that the pandemic is ongoing, even as restrictions are lifted. She also acknowledged that lifting the restrictions raises the risk of further transmission of the coronavirus.

Malcolm also said the state “may be at a plateau in case growth,” though the mass protests over the last few days could change that in the coming weeks. Health officials have encouraged those involved with protests to get tested for Covid-19.

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