Passport, please? Twin Cities to require proof of vaccination or negative test to get into bars, restaurants

Mandates, starting Jan. 19, also cover sports venues, theaters, bowling alleys, convention centers and catering halls, among others

MINNEAPOLIS-ST. PAUL — Patrons of restaurants and bars in Minneapolis and St. Paul soon will have to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a recent negative test to enter such businesses under mandates the Twin Cities mayors announced Wednesday.

The temporary mandates, to go into effect Jan. 19, also apply to any indoor establishments where food and/or drink is served.

Organizers of ticketed events will have until Jan. 26 to enforce the new rules. The St. Paul mandate will end in 40 days without additional action, although the Minneapolis declaration is open-ended at this point.

The regulations apply to everyone who is eligible to be vaccinated, which covers anybody 5 and older. Children ages 2-4 will require negative tests, while those younger than 2 are exempt.

“I can’t emphasize this enough: This is a critical next step to avoid closure,” said Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, who said the recent surge in COVID cases has swamped testing sites and hospitals. “We want to stay open, and we need to stay safer.”

During the joint news conference of the two city leaders, St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter said, “Our expectation is the vast majority of businesses will comply, will participate and will see this as an opportunity to keep their business open, to keep their employees working and to keep our whole community moving forward together.”

Indoor diners will have a choice of showing either:
• Proof they have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. It must be two weeks since receiving the final dose of a vaccine series, although a booster isn’t required.
• Or proof of a negative PCR or antigen COVID-19 lab test within the past 72 hours. The test must be done under medical supervision and not a home version.

Facilities subject to the rules include bars, indoor restaurants, cafes, coffee shops, sports venues, theaters, bowling alleys, convention centers and catering halls, among others.

Exempt sites include retail or grocery stores, schools, hospitals, congregate care facilities and public areas not connected to a restaurant or bar but where people happen to be eating or drinking.

Establishments that spurn the requirements could face as-yet undetermined enforcement action.

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