Originally published on January 12, 2022
MINNEAPOLIS (TNZT) – In a bold move to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the Twin Cities, the mayors of Minneapolis and St. Paul announced Wednesday they would require patrons of bars, restaurants and sports venues to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or present evidence. of a negative test to enter.
On Friday, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey released a series of revisions that had been made to the bylaw, including the following:
- Changing the age to have a negative test required from 2 to 5 years old,
- Removed OSHA reference due to Thursday’s U.S. Supreme Court decision,
- Added definitions of proof of a completed series of vaccinations or a negative test, and
- Clarify conditions and expectations for ending regulation.
The new policies, which are unlike any other citywide restrictions put in place in Minnesota since the pandemic began, have many people scratching their heads asking: Where do these policies apply? -they ? How will they be applied? How long will they be in place? And how will offenders be punished?
Below is a series of questions and answers about the new policies.
What are the politicians doing?
While Minneapolis and St. Paul’s policies differ slightly, they will both require patrons at locations where food and beverages are sold to be vaccinated or show proof of a negative test within the past 72 hours.
In Minneapolis, this policy includes places like bars, restaurants, entertainment and sports venues, food courts, cafes and indoor cafes (such as in gymnasiums or museums), and food halls.
In Saint-Paul, the ordinance will apply to any business authorized by the city.
When do the policies take effect?
The policies will take effect Jan. 19 in both cities, initially for establishments that serve food and beverages for indoor consumption. On January 26, the policy will expand in both cities to include ticketed events.
How long will the policies be in place?
At a press conference, Mayor Jacob Frey of Minneapolis said they would be in place until the Omicron surge peaked. No specific date was given.
Who will the policies affect?
The obligation to vaccinate will extend to all persons eligible to be vaccinated, i.e. all persons aged 5 and over.
Who is exempt from policies?
In both cities, children under 5 will be exempt.
While Minneapolis originally planned to require children ages 2 to 5 to show proof of a negative test, that requirement has now been dropped, according to Minneapolis city officials.
Also exempt are athletes, performers and support staff (coaches, coaches, technicians, road crew members) booked for a performance or competition.
In Minneapolis, the policy does not specifically apply to schools or daycares, hospitals, long-term care facilities, food and beverages taken as part of a religious practice, grocery stores, convenience stores, at soup kitchens or sites serving the homeless or other vulnerable populations.
Why do mayors do this?
This is the latest response from mayors to curb the spike in COVID-19 cases linked to the highly contagious variant of Omicron. The surge in cases has caused disruption in virtually every sector, from shipping and hospitality to education and healthcare.
Last week, both cities reinstated mask mandates.
In a statement, Mayor Jacob Frey of Minneapolis said the new vaccination requirement will allow patrons of bars or restaurants to support their favorite establishments while knowing that their fellow patrons are vaccinated or have recently tested negative.
“The spike in COVID cases in our city is causing buildups at testing sites and overwhelming our hospitals and healthcare workers, and the data is overwhelmingly clear that more is needed to keep our cities safe,” did he declare.
What types of tests will be accepted as evidence?
Only PCR or antigen tests will be accepted. Rapid home tests will not.
How can I show proof of vaccination?
Proof of vaccination can be presented via the vaccination card, a photo of the vaccination card or via the Docket application.
Will booster injections be necessary?
No. Just a full series of vaccines.
How will the policies be enforced?
Companies will be responsible for screening customers. Those found guilty of violations could receive warning letters, citations, civil penalties or even face misdemeanor prosecution.
However, officials in both cities said they would work with businesses, focusing first on education and then embracing policy.
How are restaurants reacting?
Yoom Nguyen of the Lotus restaurant in Minneapolis thinks the new policies will do the exact opposite of what city leaders expect.
“Seriously, we’re going through enough already,” Nguyen said. “That’s another thing we can’t handle.”
He said there was no way to hire someone to stand outside his restaurant to check IDs.
“What do you do when people come to pick up food for takeout orders, delivery drivers? There’s a whole bunch of stuff that goes with that that doesn’t make sense to us,” he said.
Hospitality Minnesota Group said it was “disheartened” by the mayors’ decision, adding that already struggling businesses will be hurt by the policies.
“We share their grave concern for the health and safety of the public. Yet this new vaccine and testing mandate for businesses serving food and beverages adds another huge challenge for the hospitality industry as our operators grapple with historic labor shortages and an economic recovery. stalled, as indicated in our recent business terms survey,” the group said in a statement. “Once again, the burden is placed on businesses to enforce this additional mandate, which puts them at an additional competitive disadvantage and in a difficult position with the public and their frontline workers. As this takes effect, it is crucial that both mayors be absolutely clear on the steps that will lead to the lifting of these mandates to help these companies get to the other side of this latest wave.
Additionally, the Minnesota Licensed Beverage Association said the mayors’ approach was unscientific, saying it targeted bars and restaurants.
“The hospitality industry has complied with all mandates, regulations and more for COVID. But it is difficult to understand an unjustified and unscientific vaccination mandate,” the group said. “It targets a single specific industry after the lack of science or data behind the decision, and zero concern for our dedicated frontline workers who will now add an ‘enforcer’ to their plates. The only scientific thing we know is that it has devastated the hospitality industry in other cities with these same mandates.
Were there already bars and restaurants that required vaccination?
A few bars and entertainment venues in the Twin Cities required vaccination to eat or drink indoors. Among them were Fair State Brewing in northeast Minneapolis and First Avenue in downtown Minneapolis.
One of Fair State’s co-founders told TNZT they made the decision based on feedback from the community and its member-owners.
Have other cities tried similar policies?
New York, San Francisco, Seattle and Los Angeles have similar restrictions in place.
The The New Zealand Times found enforcement to be patchy in those cities.
What do health experts think about politics?
The Minnesota Medical Association, which is made up of 11,000 physicians, residents and medical students, applauded the mayors’ decision.
“As the Omicron variant continues to spread and exacerbate pressure on hospital capacity and our already fatigued healthcare workers, we need strong measures like this to curb this pandemic,” the group said in a statement. “We urge other communities in the state to consider similar temporary actions. The best defense against COVID-19 and serious complications remains vaccination and booster shots. Properly fitting masks, social distancing, hand washing, staying home when sick and getting tested if you have symptoms provide additional protection. These are all ways for the people of Minnesota to stay healthy, protect their friends and loved ones, and show their support for the thousands of healthcare workers who continue to selflessly care for patients on the front lines.
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