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 GuidanceMinneapolis GuidanceNotes
Hours of OperationNo 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 PlanRequiredSame as State 
Distance requirement Minimum of 6 feet of physical space between partiesSame as StateTables should be spaced so customers are six feet apart when seated
ReservationsRequiredSame as State 
Bar SeatingUp to 2 patrons per partyNot allowedMinneapolis Emergency Regulation 2020-17 remains in effect
No seating or congregating at bar counter
Tableside Seating: IndoorsUp to 2 patrons per partySame as StateIncludes booths, nooks, and high tops
Capacity Limit: IndoorsLimit occupancy to no more than 50%
Up to 150 individuals
Same as StateFace 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: OutdoorsLimit 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: IndoorsRequiredSame as StateFace 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: OutdoorsFace coverings should be worn outdoors when physical spacing cannot be maintainedSame as State 
Permitted Entertainment

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 StateLive entertainment: Keep more than 12 feet of physical space between all performers and between performers and patrons
Not Permitted EntertainmentKaraoke singing or open mic events involving performances by patrons and visitors, and patron dancing

Outdoor entertainment without approved Amplified Sound Permit
Same as StatePatron 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?

My restaurant does not sell alcohol. Can I have customer seated at my counter?

Are customers allowed to pick up their to go orders at my bar counter?

I have plexiglass partitions on my bar counter that separate staff from customers. Is seating allowed?

Can I pull a two top or other table to the bar and have seating at the table?

For questions about configuring your bar area to be compliant, please contact your area Liquor License Inspector.

See full guidance in the Restaurant and Bar Guidance Document and at Stay Safe Minnesota. Note that in Minneapolis, bar service still remains closed.

Additional Changes in State Guidance

Indoor example

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:

Outdoor example

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:


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:

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:

All outdoor dining spaces must consider:

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 

Not allowed

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)      
Heating Elements      
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



Contact us

Email updates

Find a service

About this site

For employees

For reasonable accommodations or alternative formats, contact 311.
People who are deaf or hard of hearing can use a relay service to call 311 at 612-673-3000.
TTY users can call 612-263-6850.

Para asistencia 612-673-2700, Yog xav tau kev pab, hu 612-637-2800, Hadii aad Caawimaad u baahantahay 612-673-3500. 

Minneapolis 311       ©1997-2021 City of Minneapolis, MN


311 call center

311 TTY relay service

City of Minneapolis Facebook City of Minneapolis Twitter City of Minneapolis YouTube ChaNNEL Minneapolis 311 Watch Minneapolis City Council TV City of Minneapolis LinkedIn

Minneapolis, City of Lakes logo