Restaurant and Bar Compliance Questions Arise as Vaccine Mandates Announced in Minneapolis, St. Paul

Minneapolis and St. Paul announced Wednesday the implementation of requirements that customers show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test in order to enter dine-in bars, restaurants, and other places of public accommodation where food and drinks are served. The policies go into effect on January 19, 2022.

Minneapolis Regulation 2022-4 and St. Paul Executive Order 2022-4

Minneapolis Emergency Regulation No. 2022-4 and St. Paul E.O. 2022-4 (“2022-4”) now require that most restaurants, bars, and other places serving food for indoor dining in Minneapolis and St. Paul admit only those customers who show proof of a completed vaccination series against COVID-19 occurring at least two weeks prior to entry, or proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR or antigen test collected 3 days prior to entry.  Customers, to show complete proof under the new rules, must provide proof of 2 doses of Moderna or Pfizer, or one dose of the J&J vaccine. The cities have thus far cited no exemption to 2022-4 for those customers with medical or religious vaccine abstentions.

2022-4 applies to ticketed events at most venues in the cities on January 26, 2022.  The regulations may also extend to movie theatres, coffee shops, sports stadiums, and other places of public accommodation licensed by the cities. They don’t apply to businesses where people buy food to eat elsewhere.

The Minneapolis regulation applies to everyone older than age 2, while St. Paul exempts children 5 and younger. The regulations make few exemptions, so restauranteurs are keen to be aware of how the Twin Cities’ new vaccine mandate will affect their businesses, and what steps they can take to soften the blow.

Please note, St. Paul’s mandate is more limited than Minneapolis. St. Paul’s mandate only applies to about 1/3 of restaurants and bars (those who have on-site liquor licenses held by the city and other businesses licensed by the city).

Practical Effects of 2022-4

Complying with some of the restrictions in the mandate will prove cumbersome for many restaurants in the cities’ limits, and you cannot use proof of at-home testing, making compliance more difficult.  Absent proof of completed vaccine series, restaurants should request proof of a negative COVID-19 test, administered by a health provider, showing the date of the test (either in hard-copy, or in photograph form).  Some apps, such as Docket and Clear, may ease compliance for business owners and customers.

The restrictions allow for enforcement, such as fines and perhaps the most imminent threat— license ramifications—for violations of 2022-4.  Cloth masks, and surgical disposal masks, along with N95 masks, remain the standard for employees and patrons under 2022-4.  If you have questions about 2022-4, whether it applies to your business, or how to comply, give us a call to discuss your situation.

About The Author(s)

Annaliisa Gifford is a law clerk at Monroe Moxness Berg