Minneapolis closes indoor bar areas as virus cases rise

A man stands at a podium.
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey announces an emergency regulation ordering all indoor bar spaces in Minneapolis closed effective Aug. 1, 2020, during a press conference in Minneapolis on Wednesday.
Evan Frost | MPR News

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey on Wednesday ordered that indoor bar areas be closed in the state's largest city as coronavirus cases have surged in young adults.

At least nine bars have been tied to virus outbreaks, with at least seven customers testing positive. The city said more than half of its new cases are in people younger than 35 who report increased exposure in bars and at gatherings of family and friends.

“A night out at the bar is too often leading to nights in the hospital for family, for friends and for neighbors,” Frey said. “By focusing on bar areas, which are proven to be hotbeds for congregation and community spread, we can help keep both Minneapolis and Minnesotans safe and can help keep trends stable.”

The regulation, which goes into effect on Saturday, includes bars, nightclubs, distilleries, taprooms and bar areas inside restaurants. Patrons can still go to these establishments but must be seated and served from socially distanced tables.

City Health Commissioner Gretchen Musicant said cases have steadily increased citywide since June 21, roughly two weeks after Gov. Tim Walz issued reopening guidelines. The city is reporting a rate of 18 new cases per 100,000 people per day, significantly higher than the state's roughly 11 per day.

At least 367 Minneapolis cases have been tied to bars as of last Monday, and the city's positive test rate of 9 percent is nearly double the statewide rate.

A woman speaks at a podium,
Minneapolis Health Commissioner Gretchen Musicant speaks about an emergency regulation ordering all indoor bar spaces in Minneapolis closed.
Evan Frost | MPR News

Kris Ehresmann, the state health department’s director of infectious diseases, said during a press call Wednesday that state officials are looking into 28 bars, restaurants and similar establishments across the state, which remain a “significant driver” in the recent rise in cases.

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