The mayors of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota, on Wednesday, announced that both cities will implement vaccine mandates for bars and restaurants that offer in-person service.
Mayors Jacob Frey of Minneapolis and Melvin Carter of St. Paul announced that the new rules requiring either proof of vaccination against the coronavirus or a negative test within 72 hours of wanting a bite to eat will be effective Jan. 19, according to KMSP-TV.
Carter said that for ticketed events, the mandate takes effect on Jan. 26 in his community.
Erik Hansen, director of economic policy and development for the City of Minneapolis, said the mandate is better than a lockdown.
Minnesota's bar industry is not pleased with the new Minneapolis and St. Paul vaccine-or-negative test rules:
— Theo Keith (@TheoKeith) January 12, 2022
“This regulation we believe helps protect the health of business owners and patrons alike, while still keeping these businesses open,” Hansen said.
Under the rules, “fully vaccinated” is defined as having completed an initial course of vaccination. Boosters are not currently required.
“The intent is not go in with a heavy hand, but allow our businesses to stay open,” Frey said. “As far as enforcement goes and how it will function, generally it will be complaint based.”
Hansen said businesses that do not comply could eventually face a misdemeanor charge, according to KTTC-TV.
The rules will not accept at-home tests.
“There is really no way if you’re taking a rapid test at home to be able to match up the results with the actual person taking the test,” Heidi Ritchie, interim health commissioner in Minneapolis, said, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. “It’s very easy to take a picture of the strip that is your testing results and share it with other people and put it on Facebook or whatnot.”
No medical or religious exemptions are written into the rules.
Minneapolis just announced a vaccine mandate for bars, restaurants, + entertainment.
As someone who is vaccinated, I am failing to see how this policy is effective with the data we have about Omicron transmission.
If anyone has any more information on this subject, let me know
— Dan Green (@DanielGreenMN) January 12, 2022
Things get tricky if you want to bring the kids to eat out. There is currently no vaccine for children under 5, so that’s not an issue. However, in Minneapolis, only kids under age 2 are exempt from being tested, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. Children between 2 and 5 need a test to get into a restaurant that offers in-person dining, under the rules.
In St. Paul, kids under 5 are exempt from being tested or vaccinated.
Abdishakur Elmi, the owner of Hamdi restaurant in Minneapolis, said that though the mandate might be good health policy, he’s not thrilled.
“This is very hard,” he said. “It will discourage people from coming to our restaurant.”
The mandates are supposed to be temporary. St. Paul defines that as a 40-day window, but Minneapolis has no time period on its mandate.
Frey said the mandate was necessary given the spike in coronavirus cases.
“Data is exceedingly clear that more is needed to keep our cities safe,” Frey said. “This is a critical next step to avoid closures. We want to stay open, but we want to stay safer … This is the next best step for employees and visitors to stay safe.”