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:
- Guidelines for restaurants and bars
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- Temporary outdoor dining application
- MN Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) guidance and FAQ
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.
- similar to the coffee shop - order, pay, then go away
- each one has a counter kiosk type delivery mechanism with no ability for "bar" seating, congregating, or standing to enjoy their drinks
- Reservations/contact collecting is still required.
- 50% occupancy is still the maximum allowable in the current phase of reopening, (250 individuals or less)
- 6 feet of physical spacing required between tables
- 4 per table, 6 if in the same household
- Mask use when not consuming food or beverage.
Are patrons allowed to stand and congregate in outdoor spaces?
- No, all service must occur tableside and all patrons must be seated for the duration of their visit. Ordering of food and/or beverages must be done from the table by a server or other means, such as through an app or mobile device. The food and/or beverages will be brought out the seated party. Food and beverages may not be ordered from a bar service area.
Can patrons order just drinks without ordering food?
- Yes, as per current practice for the individual establishments and their licensure.
My establishment has high top tables. Will patrons be allowed to use these spaces?
- Establishments may continue to use high top tables if these tables have a seat for each person with a maximum of four people per table (six if members of the same household) and tables maintain six feet between parties at different tables while seated.
- Bar areas that can be converted for seated service will be allowed if food and/or beverage services are provided tableside while patrons are seated, and all spacing and capacity guidance allowable under the current phase of reopening are followed.
What services are allowed in outdoor spaces?
- Outdoor spaces may continue to operate in either their current configuration or in an expanded premise using the COVID Temporary Outdoor Expansion Application. Regulations as per this order are to be followed. All patrons must be seated and served at a booth or table with a maximum of four people per table, six if members of the same household.
How do you define a bar area?
- A bar area means one (1) or more spaces in an establishment that is designed and utilized primarily for the consumption of alcohol or for providing entertainment. This space would include, and is not limited to, a dance floor area, a stage, a game room or any space that is undefined or does not provide for seated food service.
Considerations may be made for outdoor sporting courts such as bocce, volleyball or similar features.
What is an Indoor Space of Entertainment?
- An indoor space of entertainment means any privately owned place wherein entertainment is offered or given to the public, whether or not a fee is charged for admission and whether or not sales of goods or property are made upon the premises, places licensed for on‐sale beer, wine or liquor, food establishments licensed as a restaurant or food manufacturer which provide entertainment to the general public.
Emergency Regulation 2020‐17 addresses nightclubs. What about bars and taverns?
- Bars, taverns, cocktail lounges and other similar uses where an establishment is engaged in the sale of alcoholic beverages for on‐premises consumption fit the definition of a nightclub. Seated table‐service dining restaurants are excluded from the definition of a nightclub.
Where do food halls fit into the bar area closure?
- A food hall may continue to operate provided that the bar area is closed from patron access, beverages are purchased and delivered to tableside locations where patrons are seated. Patrons may wait in line to retrieve their food from designated food vendors as long as the wait lines are properly spaced, and occupancy is managed.
We are under no illusion that a one‐sized solution fits all businesses. Each situation, each business model is unique.
- You may contact your Area License Inspector who can help you navigate through the new requirement for your situation.
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:
- 72 ounces of malt liquor, hard seltzer, beer or cider
- 750 milliliters (ml) of wine.
Restaurants may not sell:
- Alcoholic beverages with a delivery order
- Liquor or mixed drinks
Businesses must check the customer’s state-issued ID to verify:
- The customer is of legal drinking age, and
- Has no restrictions on purchasing alcohol For questions about beer and wine to-go in Minneapolis, email [email protected] or call 612-673-2080.
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?
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
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?
The hours of operation are the same as previously approved.
What is the capacity restriction?
- Bars and restaurants are capped at 50% capacity with proper Social Distance spacing.
- Places of entertainment (Theaters, bowling alleys, etc) are capped at 25%
- Capacity is based off of occupancy levels as set by Fire Inspections.
- Max capacity is 250.
Can there be live entertainment?
Yes. If meeting capacity and Social Distancing requirements, establishments may allow:
- Live music
- Mics to be disinfected between each singer.
Can there be dancing?
No. Dance floors must remain closed
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?
- Yes. Outside of Downtown operating hours are:
- Sunday to Thursday from 8 a.m. until 10 p.m.
- Friday & Saturday from 8 a.m. until 11 p.m.
- Downtown (B4)
- Sunday to Thursday from 8 a.m. until 11 p.m.
- Friday & Saturday from 8 a.m. until 12 a.m.
What is the maximum number of people allowed on a patio?
- Up to 250 people are allowed per patio, with tables at least 6 feet apart.
- Party size is limited to four people or six people if they are a single household.
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:
- The canopy is a non-pressurized building wherein the structure is composed of a rigid framework to support a tensioned membrane which provides the weather barrier without sidewalls or drops and is not supported by the contents that it protects; and
- The canopy is less than 400 square feet in size.
- For a tent or canopy that is greater than 400 square feet in size, a Tent/Membrane Structure Permit will be required.
- No cooking, grilling, barbecuing or mixing drinks allowed in the tent. These activities must be indoors.
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.
- Exception: Socially Distanced concerts “concert in the park” style events may be permitted.
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?
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 Aug 5, 2020