Guidance for Restaurants, Bars, and Breweries/Distilleries

Starting June 1, 2020, Bars and Restaurants will be able to provide Outdoor Dining while following specific Physical Distancing guidelines and regulations.

Restaurants and bars opening on or after June 1

The State of Minnesota will begin allowing bars and restaurants to open outdoor dining options on or after June 1. On June 10, bars and restaurants may begin indoor service. The City will be providing restaurants with additional flexibility for modifying outdoor dining options. See below for Minneapolis-specific guidance:

August 1st Bar Area Closure

Mayor Frey signed Emergency Order 2020-17 which closed Indoor Bar Area service effective 5pm 8/1/2020. Upon further review of the order and discussion, counter usage is allowable, if utilized solely as a service vehicle where:

patrons order, purchase, and then sit at a table in a space that does not offer bar seating/standing/congregating.

Are patrons allowed to stand and congregate in outdoor spaces?

Can patrons order just drinks without ordering food?

My establishment has high top tables. Will patrons be allowed to use these spaces?

What services are allowed in outdoor spaces?

How do you define a bar area?

What is an Indoor Space of Entertainment?

Emergency Regulation 2020‐17 addresses nightclubs. What about bars and taverns?

Where do food halls fit into the bar area closure?

We are under no illusion that a one‐sized solution fits all businesses. Each situation, each business model is unique.

COVID 19 Indoor & Outdoor Dining FAQ

Here is a list of common questions and answers about the use and operation of indoor and outdoor spaces.


What do businesses need to do to open?

Businesses must have a COVID-19 Preparedness Plan that meets state requirements. See Guidelines for restaurants and bars above.

Can restaurants sell beer and wine to-go?

Restaurants may temporarily sell limited alcoholic beverages as part of a takeout food order. Governor Walz signed a law allowing limited alcohol sales on April 17, 2020.

Restaurants may sell with a take-out food order:

Restaurants may not sell:

Businesses must check the customer’s state-issued ID to verify:

Read more about food and public safety, including best practices for safe distancing during food pickup.

FAQ about beer and wine to-go 

Who qualifies to sell beer and wine to-go?

  • Restaurants licensed to sell beer, wine or liquor and where beer and wine sales are secondary to food sales.
  • Restaurants who have closed their dine-in food service under Governor Walz’s Executive Orders [Link to web page of Executive Orders.

Who cannot sell beer and wine to-go?

  • Businesses that do not prepare meals on site to sell to the general public.

Who is exempt from this law?

  • Breweries, brewpubs, taprooms, and other off-sale liquor license holders are exempt from this law.

Are there other business requirements? Yes, businesses must:

  • Update your liquor liability insurance to reflect that alcohol is sold for off-sale consumption.
  • Be certified and in good standing with Alcohol and Gambling Enforcement Division.

What counts as a restaurant?

  • Minnesota Statute 340A.101 defines a restaurant as, “an establishment, other than a hotel, under the control of a single proprietor or manager, where meals are regularly prepared on the premises and served at tables to the general public, and having a minimum seating capacity for guests as prescribed by the appropriate license issuing authority”.

How much alcohol can eligible restaurants sell?

  • A bottle of wine up to 750 ml in the original, unopened packaging.
  • Individual cans or bottles of malt liquor, beer, cider, and hard seltzers with a maximum combined volume of 72 ounces in the original, unopened packaging.
  • Note: Distilled spirits and mixed drinks cannot be sold.

Are additional licenses required before selling beer and wine to-go?

  • No. If you are a qualified, licensed restaurant no additional licenses or endorsements are required. (See "Who qualifies to sell beer and wine to-go?" above.)

Can restaurants sell the alcohol on delivery orders?

  • No, you can only sell alcohol with take-out orders only. Selling alcohol with delivery orders is not allowed.

When does the to-go sale of alcohol permission expire?

  • Permission to sell alcoholic drinks with take-out orders at restaurants will expire once the emergency orders that closed dine-in businesses (20-04, 20-18, and 20-33) expire or are repealed. 

Can I still sell beer and wine to go with curbside food pick up?

Yes, you may continue to offer beer and wine in original packaging with your to go food orders.

Are reservations required?

Yes. Reservations are required.

Businesses need to have an electronic or manual reservation system. This limits the number of people congregating while waiting for their table.

Are bathrooms to be made available to customers?

Yes. Access to interior plumbed bathrooms is required as they are controllable, able to be disinfected after each use, and allow for proper hand washing practices. However, portable toilets may be allowed for outdoor dining providing proper hygiene measures are available

Indoor Dining

What is the max capacity of the interior seating area?

Up to 50% of establishment capacity as set by Fire Inspections, no more than 250 people, with proper Social Distance spacing..

Are there restrictions on operating hours for indoor service?

No. The hours of operation are the same as previously approved.

What is the capacity restriction?

Can there be live entertainment?

Can there be dancing? 

No. Dance floors must remain closed

Outdoor Dining

Can breweries and distilleries have outdoor service?

Yes. The Executive Order was amended to allow for outdoor food or drink service. Breweries and distilleries need to follow all aspects of the order and COVID-19 guidelines.

What about tables and chairs on sidewalks that don't allow for 6 feet of distancing when people walk by on the sidewalk?

Emergency Regulations are underway to add flexibility to zoning ordinance for the purpose of sidewalk café and retail expansion. Businesses must maintain ADA compliance.

Are there restrictions on operating hours for Outdoor Expansions?

What is the maximum number of people allowed on a patio?

If I have already applied for a COVID related Temporary Expansion and I want to increase the size of my outdoor space, do I need to reapply?

No. Please contact your area Inspector. All we will need is an updated site plan and Certificate of Insurance if your current one is specific to an area. No need to complete an additional permit application.

Can nightclubs expand outdoors?

Bars may expand outdoors for food or beverage service but there is to be no live entertainment or dancing. If a nightclub wants to provide outdoor service without entertainment, they may providing they follow all established guidelines.

Can the business use a tent?

A tent will be considered an indoor space of public accommodation and may be utilized with an additional permit. 50% capacity will apply, 250 person maximum, with Social Distancing.

Businesses interested in adding a canopy or tent to cover the outdoor space may do so without an additional permit provided the following:

Can nonfood related retail establishments expand to outdoor areas?

Zoning currently allows 30 inches of outdoor space. With Emergency Regulation 2020-13, outdoor spaces may be expanded beyond the 30-inch requirement so long as the expansion remains compliant with ADA guidelines.

Can there be live entertainment on the patio?

No, only background music is allowed outdoors.

Can an outdoor roof top patio be used?

Yes, they may be used. Traffic flow and physical distancing must be controlled to gain access to the roof. This also applies to patios only accessible via private interiors.

Can the parking lot be fenced?


Can we have umbrellas at tables?

Yes, if they can be wiped down and disinfected. 

What is the process for expanding my existing area/moving outside when I do not have an existing area?

You may email the Temporary Outdoor Dining application to [email protected] or directly to your area inspector.

Can I request to close off the street for this temporary expansion?

Yes. A Block Event application will be required to close the entire street.

If you wish to close off only a portion of the street, complete the ROWAY permit as instructed in the application.  

What if I already have an approved outdoor area? What hours can I operate?

You can operate at your previously approved hours of operations.

For any questions about COVID19 and your Minneapolis business operations, please contact the business licensing division at 612-673-2080 or [email protected] You may also look up your area inspector directly.


Last updated Sep 11, 2020



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