Minnesota’s Twin Cities are set to impose a vaccine requirement to enter establishments where food and beverages are sold for indoor consumption on-site in one of the strictest pandemic-era measures the joined metropolises have imposed thus far.
It will apply to businesses like restaurants, bars, stadiums, bowling alleys, and movie theatres, among others, the Star Tribune reported. Both cities mayors’ enacted the requirement on Wednesday, just after imposing indoor mask mandates. It singles out eateries and other establishments where food is consumed indoors as patrons remove their masks to eat and drink.
Each policy will go into effect on Jan. 19 and will extend to cover ticketed events on Jan. 26, WCCO reported.
It will apply to everyone over the age of 5 and while Minneapolis was initially going a require a negative test for anyone between the ages of 2 and 5, they dropped this stipulation, the station noted.
In each case, only a negative PCR or antigen tests will count as an alternative to proof of vaccination. At-home tests will not be accepted.
Both mayors suggested the policies are only temporary.
In a joint press conference with St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey explained that the move is being made in an attempt to keep Twin Cities businesses open.
“This is a critical next step to avoid closures,” he said. “We want to stay open, and we need to stay safer.”
“We know that the big difference between those early stages of the pandemic and today is that we have more tools in our toolbox than ever before,” Carter said. “We’re not helpless against the ongoing impacts of COVID-19.”
One resident who spoke with the Star Tribune said she had traveled to New York recently and appreciated knowing that fellow diners at restaurants were also vaccinated and hopes that the local mandate will be the final push for those who remain vaccine hesitant to get the jab.
Business owners, however, expressed frustration as many restaurants are short-staffed as it is without checking vaccine status.
“Seriously, we are going through enough stuff already,” Yoom Nguyen of Lotus Restaurant in Minneapolis told WCCO. “This is another thing that we cannot handle.”
“There is no way I’m going to hire someone to stand here at the door and to check IDs,” he explained. “What do we do when people are picking up food for to go orders, delivery drivers, there are a whole bunch of things that come along with this that doesn’t make sense to us.”
The group Hospitality Minnesota echoed this sentiment on behalf of the industry in a statement.
“Once again, the burden is being placed on businesses to enforce this additional mandate, putting them at a further competitive disadvantage and in a difficult position with the public and their frontline workers,” the statement read. “As this goes into effect, it is crucial that both mayors are absolutely clear about the metrics that will drive the lifting of these mandates to help these businesses get on the other side of this latest surge.”
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