Governor Walz announces restaurants can open outdoor seating on June 1st


The stay at home order lifted Monday. Now comes the next phase.

Restaurants and bars can open sit-down outdoor service and salons and barbershops can open to 25 percent as of June 1. The personal care services can open to 25 percent capacity of their fire code while maintaining physical distancing. 

Reservations will be required for restaurants with no more than 50 people in an outdoor space. Parties will be limited to four except for families in which six are permitted.

Masks will be required for workers and customers are strongly encouraged to wear one.

Campgrounds and charter boats can operate with plans for physical distancing and disinfecting common areas.

Gov. Tim Walz said the plan is “not perfect, but it’s safe and moving the dial.”

“What impacts transmission is how close you are to another person, how long you’re around that other person, and how predictable the setting is that you’re around that other person,” Walz explained.

Health Commissioner Jan Malcom said Minnesota has seen five straight days of slower rates of growth, which is positive, but community spread is hovering around 30 percent, higher than what health officials want to see.

Minnesota had one of its highest death tolls Tuesday with 29.

“The decision the governor has come to is a cautious one,” Malcolm said, “and I think it’s incremental and it’s cautious because the data indicate that we need to continue to be cautious with this degree of community spread, this degree of case growth, the potential for outbreaks and the fact that we are still building that support capacity that we need to do the testing and tracing and isolation and quarantine that we need.”

DEED Commissioner Steve Grove said it might take restaurants without dedicated outdoor space getting creative, or even municipalities stepping in to find conducive space to serve people.

To come is a gradual ratcheting up the capacity of restaurants and salons, then reintroducing physically-distanced outdoor entertainment like movies and eventually church services moving indoors.

The last phase includes places like gyms, bowling alleys and movie theatres.

There is no timetable for the next reopening.

Nothing in today’s announcement changes places of worship. Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka in a statement said he “growing more concerned” Walz is making a “targeted effort to keep churches closed” since their capacity remains at a gathering of 10, as opposed to restaurants serving 50.

Walz says the decision is around the unpredictability of the setting, and complications like evidence showing singing has spread the virus.

“There is a very strong sense of urgency for us to figure this piece out around churches,” Walz said. “I say that about all the businesses but I do think these pieces of people's lives we need to try and get it around. I would just tell you I think it goes with the predictability piece of it. I will again say that I don’t think that it’s perfect and I think there’s some things that we have to continue to still figure out.”

The Minnesota Catholic Conference was dismayed writing in a statement: "An order that sweeps so broadly that it prohibits, for example, a gathering of 11 people in a Cathedral with a seating capacity of several thousand defies reason." It is planning to defy the order to observe the Pentecost with its own sanitation measures at 33 percent capacity.

Hospitality Minnesota which represents lodging, restaurants, resorts, and campgrounds in a statement said in a statement the news is “surprising and disappointing,” adding the organization had been working with the governor. The organization is concerned some restaurants without outdoor space will be left behind.

“I understand the frustrations, I understand the desire...but the science is too strong,” Walz said. “We can’t pretend like this isn’t a big deal. We can’t pretend with 100,000 dead Americans this is just going to go away. We can’t pretend that all of the trends of the modeling are holding pretty steady and pretty true that we are still a ways off from our peak.