Guidance for Restaurants, Bars, and Breweries/Distilleries
Minneapolis indoor dining may re-open; seating at the bar counter is not allowed
On Wednesday, January 6, Governor Walz announced a loosening of COVID-19 restrictions. The following table highlights the updated industry guidance for restaurants and bars from Executive Order 21-01. Dine-in service at restaurants and bars may re-open beginning Monday, January 11.
In Minneapolis, Emergency Regulation No. 2020-17, which closed bar service, remains in effect. Customers in Minneapolis may not be seated or served at bar counters. This measure remains in place to limit the risk of patrons congregating and spreading the virus that causes COVID-19. Bar areas may be converted to seated dining space, but customers may not be seated or served at bar counters – even if plexiglass or similar barriers are installed. In establishments that have counter-service only, the business may have a designated area for customers to order at the bar/counter. Customers must maintain six feet of distance and wear masks while waiting in line.
|State Guidance||Minneapolis Guidance||Notes|
|Hours of Operation||No in-person Food or Beverage Service between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m.|
Takeout and delivery allowed during normal business hours
|Same as State|
|Adopt and Implement a COVID-19 Preparedness Plan||Required||Same as State|
|Distance requirement||Minimum of 6 feet of physical space between parties||Same as State||Tables should be spaced so customers are six feet apart when seated|
|Reservations||Required||Same as State|
|Bar Seating||Up to 2 patrons per party||Not allowed||Minneapolis Emergency Regulation 2020-17 remains in effect|
No seating or congregating at bar counter
|Tableside Seating: Indoors||Up to 2 patrons per party||Same as State||Includes booths, nooks, and high tops|
|Capacity Limit: Indoors||Limit occupancy to no more than 50%|
Up to 150 individuals
|Same as State||Face coverings should be worn in all indoor spaces by those able to medically tolerate them|
Face coverings may be removed when consuming food or beverages
|Capacity Limit: Outdoors||Limit occupancy to no more than 50%|
Up to 150 individuals
|Same as State|
|Outdoor structures||Tents and similar structures must have at least 50% open walls to qualify as outdoor dining. Enclosed structures must follow guidance for indoor dining.||Same as State|
|Face Coverings: Indoors||Required||Same as State||Face coverings should be worn in all indoor spaces by those able to medically tolerate them|
Face coverings may be removed when consuming food or beverages
|Face Coverings: Outdoors||Face coverings should be worn outdoors when physical spacing cannot be maintained||Same as State|
Organized activities and bar sports leagues (billiards, darts, etc.) with 25% capacity, limited to six participants per team
Recreational use is limited to two people per game
Cannot eat or drink while playing
|Same as State||Live entertainment: Keep more than 12 feet of physical space between all performers and between performers and patrons|
|Not Permitted Entertainment||Karaoke singing or open mic events involving performances by patrons and visitors, and patron dancing|
Outdoor entertainment without approved Amplified Sound Permit
|Same as State||Patron dancing: Permitted when hosting private parties or celebrations such as weddings using Guidance for Safe Celebrations and Events|
See Minneapolis Emergency Regulation No. 2020-17 for definitions and regulations regarding bar service.
See additional guidance in Executive Order 21-01 Bulletin. Note that in Minneapolis, bar service still remains closed.
I don’t have servers. Can orders placed at the bar counter?
- Yes. Orders may be placed at the bar counter. The order must be picked up and taken back to a table for consumption. Any queue for ordering must be managed to meet social distancing requirements. There is to be no seating or congregating at the bar counter.
My restaurant does not sell alcohol. Can I have customer seated at my counter?
- Yes. Minneapolis Emergency Order 20-17 only applies to establishments selling alcohol. If you are a food only establishment with a food counter, customers may be seated there for service following the state guidelines of 2 per party, spaced every 6 feet.
Are customers allowed to pick up their to go orders at my bar counter?
- Yes. Bar counters may be used as a takeout/ pick up location. Any queue for ordering must be managed to meet social distancing requirements. There is to be no seating or congregating at the bar counter.
I have plexiglass partitions on my bar counter that separate staff from customers. Is seating allowed?
- No. Barriers, plexiglass or otherwise do not allow for bar counter seating.
Can I pull a two top or other table to the bar and have seating at the table?
- Yes. If the table is perpendicular to the bar counter and the customers are seated like a booth, then it is allowed; however, food and/or beverages may not be delivered over the counter. Staff must bring it around to the table or it can be picked up at a designated location.
For questions about configuring your bar area to be compliant, please contact your area Liquor License Inspector.
Additional Changes in State Guidance
- Gyms, personal fitness and yoga studios, martial arts
- Gym capacity remains capped at 25% and maximum capacity increases to 150 individuals
- Machines and people should maintain 9 feet of distance
- Class sizes increase to 25 people per class, assuming physical distance requirements are observed
- Everyone must wear a face covering, even while exercising
- Saunas remain closed
- Indoor events and entertainment
- Open with up to 25% capacity, no more than 150 individuals
- Face coverings are required
- No food service allowed between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m.
- Outdoor events and entertainment
- Open with up to 25% capacity, no more than 250 individuals
- Social distancing is required
- Strongly recommend face coverings, though not required if 6 feet physical distancing can be maintained
- Reception spaces for celebrations or private parties
- Wedding receptions and other private parties may resume with limits
- If food and drink are served, then they are limited to 2 households or 10 people indoors, 3 households or 15 people outdoors
- If there is no food or drink, they are covered by indoor event venues guidelines
- Indoor vs Outdoor
Definitions follow State guidelines
For example, the following spaces would be considered “indoors”:
By contrast, the following spaces would be considered “outdoors” because less than 50% of the perimeter space between the floor and ceiling are enclosed by solid material:
- Single-party enclosures
Dining in an indoor structure, such as an igloo or ice fishing shelter, carries an increased risk for virus transmission due to the lack of ventilation. A single-party enclosure such as an igloo, ice fishing shelter, or other similar structure may only be used by members of the same household. These structures must be allowed to air out for a minimum of 30 minutes between parties. Staff must not enter the structure during the 30-minute airing-out period.
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
Soomaali | Hmoob | Español
- Temporary outdoor dining application
- MN Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) guidance and FAQ
What is the current COVID-19 Status in Minneapolis and in Minnesota?
In Minnesota, COVID-19 cases are at an all-time high. One way to determine the level of COVID-19 infections in the area is by looking at the number of new people who test positive each day. The goal is to have the number of new cases each day less than 5 new cases per 100,000 residents. For updated status, please visit the Minneapolis COVID-19 Dashboard.
Additionally, more people who test positive for COVID-19 cannot identify where – or from whom – they were infected. This is called uncontrolled “community spread.” Minneapolis’ numbers are similar to the State’s numbers for both new cases and community spread.
Where can I find Minneapolis-specific COVID-19 updates?
Can a bar counter still be used?
A bar counter may be used to place orders, make payment, or to pick up to go orders.
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 Temporary Expansion of License - Premises for Outdoor Dining Application. Businesses will need to follow current industry guidance for dining in outdoor spaces. All patrons must be seated and served at a booth or table with a maximum of ten people per table.
Who do I contact for additional assistance?
Your Area License Inspector is a great resource who can help you navigate through the requirements. If you are unsure of who this might be or do not have contact information, contact Minneapolis 311 or Business Licensing at:
- 612-673-2080 (If you leave a voice mail, please give your name and address)
- [email protected]
GovDelivery Newsletter Announcement
Business Licensing has is currently transitioning from traditional email to a GovDelivery newsletter. Sign up information will be on the Business Licensing website and a link will be sent out via our next communication.
Can I continue to use my temporary outdoor expansion space as the weather gets colder?
If you already have a temporary expansion on private property or a sidewalk café, no more steps are needed.
If you have an expansion on the public right-of-way, you must stop using it by October 31. An example of an expansion in the public right-of-way is “parklet” style seating in a parking lane.
You may use tents and other enclosed spaces to expand seating on private property. Any enclosure with 3 or more sides is considered indoor dining. Indoor dining must follow the COVID-19 restrictions for indoor spaces, including:
- Capacity limits
- Face covering usage for workers and patrons
- Physical spacing between parties
All outdoor dining spaces must consider:
- Snow removal needs
- Structural ability of the tent or enclosure to hold the weight of snow without collapsing
- How to meet Americans with Disabilities (ADA) requirements such as wheelchair accessibility
Some outdoor heating elements are allowed, as long as you follow fire safety regulations and consider incorporating an air exchange mechanism to allow for adequate airflow through the enclosed space.
Businesses thinking about a new or significantly altered outdoor dining setup should contact their Area License Inspector for additional support. You may need to submit a new site plan or an amended temporary expansion application.
Details on the types of outdoor structures and heating elements that may be used:
Allowed no permit required
Allowed additional permit required
|Outdoor Structures: Ground Level|
|Canopy (2 or fewer covered sides)|
|Tent (3 or more covered sides), less than 400 square feet|
|Tent (3 or more covered sides), 400 square feet or larger||Tent permit required|
|Hard-sided/ solid-wall enclosures (greenhouses, igloos, pods)||Building permit required|
|Awnings||Building permit required|
|Outdoor structures: Rooftop|
|Hard-sided/ solid-wall, must not be plastic (greenhouses)||Building permit required|
|Canopies (any size)|
|Tents (any size)|
|Open flame (bonfires, fire pits)||FIS permit|
|Liquid Propane (LP) Gas, (patio heaters)||FIS permit|
|Please note: Open flames and fuel sources must not be located inside or within 20 feet of the tent or enclosure. Learn more about fire safety regulations|
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 Jan 13, 2021