Bars, eateries sue Minneapolis over mayor's vaccine mandate

A man at a podium gestures.
Mayor Jacob Frey and the City of Minneapolis are the subjects of a lawsuit by restaurants and bars that oppose proof of COVID vaccination or a negative COVID test for patrons to enter their Minneapolis establishment.
Evan Frost | MPR News

Several restaurants and bars are suing the city of Minneapolis — and Mayor Jacob Frey — over the vaccine and test mandate that took effect this week.

The lawsuit filed Thursday calls on a judge to toss Frey's order, which requires venues serving food or drink to ask patrons for proof of vaccination or a negative professionally-administered COVID test if they plan to be indoors. 

The seven plaintiffs include the bars Sneaky Pete's and Gay 90s, as well as restaurants Smack Shack and Jimmy John's. They point to the absence of a declared statewide COVID emergency. 

The business owners also say the test part of the mandate is “a significant hurdle for many, as time, availability, cost, and access to care are all factors that determine and necessarily limit how, when, and how often an individual could take time to schedule an appointment with a medical professional to take a COVlD-19 test.”

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Frey and St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter announced the measures last week as state data showed COVID cases increasing dramatically.

As of Wednesday, the cities mandated food and drink establishments serve only those who can prove they are fully vaccinated via paper copy, photo of their vaccination card or an app like Docket. Barring that, customers can show proof of a negative test from a lab within the previous 72 hours. 

Next week, ticketed venues must comply with the mandates.

Some music clubs, such as those owned by First Avenue, and the Dakota, already require vaccination proof, or negative tests. St. Paul arts organizations, including the Ordway and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, recently announced they would ask attendees to have boosters as well, beginning Feb. 1.

The others suing the city of Minneapolis and Frey are Wild Greg’s Saloon Minneapolis, Bunkers Music Bar and Grill and Urban Forage Winery and Cider House.