Indoor restaurant dining, movie theaters, other businesses to reopen January 11

    Gov. Tim Walz stands outside of Casper's and Runyon's Nook restaurant in St. Paul. Photo by Ricardo Lopez/Minnesota Reformer

    Gov. Tim Walz on Wednesday will announce that indoor restaurant dining, movie theaters, museums and bowling alleys will reopen starting Jan. 11, his office said. 

    Minnesota’s improving COVID-19 picture has led to a loosening of public health restrictions first enacted in November. That month, skyrocketing infections, hospitalizations and deaths caused by COVID-19 led to a sweeping closure of businesses. 

    In recent weeks, health officials have seen a slowing of new infections. 

    “The situation in Minnesota is undeniably better than it was last month,” Walz said in a statement. “We have reasons to be optimistic, and Minnesotans’ sacrifice and commitment to their communities helped change the pandemic’s trajectory and saved lives. But we need to protect the progress we’ve made.”

    Walz’s administration on Wednesday is meeting with legislative leaders and representatives from Minnesota’s Chamber of Commerce to discuss the new executive order before making a formal announcement in the afternoon. 

    His administration has been under pressure by Republicans in the Legislature, which began its regular session this week.   A handful of businesses have operated in defiance of his December executive order, which reopened some businesses with greatly reduced capacity but kept indoor restaurant dining and bars shuttered through January.

    Among some of the changes that start Jan. 11:

    • Indoor dining at bars and restaurants can resume at 50% capacity, with a 150-person maximum. Parties of no more than six people must remain socially distanced; bar seating is limited to parties of two; reservations are required and dine-in service is not allowed after 10 p.m.
    • Gyms will see an increase in maximum capacity, growing to 150, and fitness classes can grow to 25 as long as social distancing can be maintained. Face coverings are required at all times.
    • Indoor events and entertainment, museums and bowling alleys — may open at 25% capacity and cannot offer food service after 10 p.m. 
    • Wedding receptions and other private parties may resume with some restrictions. If food and drink are served at the event, indoor events are limited to two households of no more than 10 people. Outdoor events are limited to three households of no more than 15 people. If there is no food or drink, they are covered by event venue guidelines.

    Walz said last month in-person school for elementary age children can resume January 18.

    Ricardo Lopez
    Ricardo Lopez is the senior political reporter for the Reformer. Ricardo is not new to Minnesota politics, previously reporting on the Dayton administration and statehouse for The Star Tribune from 2014 to 2017, and the Republican National Convention in 2016. Previously, he was a staff writer at The Los Angeles Times covering the California economy. He's a Las Vegas native who has adopted Minnesota as his home state. In his spare time, he likes to run, cook and volunteer with Save-a-Bull, a Minneapolis dog rescue group.