After nearly two-and-a-half months, Minnesota’s bars and restaurants finally saw some changes following the COVID-19 outbreak. While Minnesota has ranked first in the nation for takeout and delivery patronage during the outbreak of COVID-19, restaurants and bars had been closed for in-person dining since March 17.

On June 1, Outdoor dining began, with restaurants maintaining social distancing and seating no more than 50 patrons at a time. In addition to outdoor dining, restaurants and bars will be able to continue to offer takeout, curbside, and delivery services, which have been permitted throughout the pandemic in Minnesota. 

Now, the executive director of the Minnesota Licensed Beverage Association (MLBA) says it’s time to open bars and restaurants even further.

“We’re one of the highest regulated health industries in the nation,” MLBA executive director Tony Chesak told What’s On Your Mind’s Scott Hennen.

Minnesota’s bars and restaurants are struggling, Chesak says, and it’s hard to watch.

“We’re watching our small business owners go under water right now,” he says.

Minnesota’s hospitality industry has met every request from the Governor’s office and the Department of Employment and Economic Development, offering guidance on safety measures and an opening “play book”– and yet, have still have not received a date for re-opening. Other states in the Midwest – including Michigan, Ohio and Indiana – are all re-opening or have opened their indoor dining at a minimum 50% capacity.

“We’re prepared and ready to go,” Chesak says. “We just need some direction from the Governor.”

The bar and restaurant industry is one of the “highest regulated health industries in the nation,” Chesak says.

Legislators across the state are beginning to support the cause, he says.

“We’re starting to see some bipartisan support,” he says.