Proof of vaccination or negative test required at Twin Cities establishments serving food, beverage

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Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter announced Wednesday a temporary policy for establishments serving indoor food or beverages.

View the full order from Minneapolis here and from St. Paul here.

The policy, which applies for licensed businesses at which food or drink is served indoors, will require customers to either show proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative PCR or antigen test taken within 72 hours of the visit.

City officials said the policy will take effect at 8 a.m. on Jan. 19.

When the policy was first announced, there was not an explicitly listed expiration date, but Frey said the policy is meant to be temporary.

On Friday, an updated version of the policy in Minneapolis was issued, which stated "if not sooner rescinded or later extended, shall expire at the end of forty (40) days after January 19, 2022 or at the end of the declared local public health emergency to which it relates, whichever occurs first."

Officials said those defined as being fully vaccinated are those who completed the original course of shots — either the two-shot Pfizer or Moderna series or the single Johnson & Johnson shot.

What will be acceptable forms of proof of vaccination?

The following are acceptable as proof of vaccination:

  • Official vaccine record
  • A photo or hard copy of the vaccination card
  • Proof of vaccination via the Docket app
  • Proof of vaccination via a private, third-party app designed for users to upload and save their vaccination card

What is an acceptable form of proof of a negative test?

The following is acceptable as proof of vaccination in both Minneapolis and St. Paul, according to the policy:

"A negative COVID-19 test means an email, printout or screen shot with the name of the individual and the test result showing the date of the test in conjunction with any photo identification that includes a photograph and name of the individual. A photo identification is not required for individuals under the age of 18. At-home tests do not meet this requirement."

What establishments are affected by the policy?

City officials said examples of establishments affected by the policy include:

  • Restaurants
  • Bars
  • Sports venues
  • Bowling alleys
  • Coffee shops and cafes, including those within larger spaces (for example, those inside museums)
  • Theaters
  • Catering halls
  • Convention centers
  • Food court seating areas if exclusive to specific establishments

What establishments or settings are exempt from the policy?

Schools, hospitals, congregate care sites, and sites serving meals to vulnerable populations, as well as grocery stores, are examples of locations exempt from the policy, city officials said. Additionally, the policy would not specifically apply to those picking up takeout, city officials said.

Are any individuals exempt from the policy?

In the first issuances of the policy, those under the age of 5 were exempt from the temporary policy in St. Paul and those under the age of 2 were exempt in Minneapolis.

However, Friday, the city of Minneapolis updated its policy to state that those under the age of 5 are exempt from the policy. Now, for both cities, those under the age of 5 are exempt.

Frey said the policy is a critical next step to avoid establishment closures.

"We want to stay open and we need to stay safer," Frey said.

Brian Ingram, the owner of Purpose Driven Restaurants, told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS he has questions and concerns regarding the new policy.

"I’m not necessarily a fan of us having to police people," Ingram said. "We want you to come here to forget your problems and relax and be with family. Instead, our first interaction with you is going to be, are you even allowed to be here?"

Ingram runs four restaurants in the Twin Cities, including Hope Breakfast Bar and The Gnome. He said it’s been difficult having to enforce the mask mandate that went into effect last week and he fears this will complicate operations even more.

"Right now, our business is down 70% from where it was a month ago," Ingram said. "So if we give people another reason to not show up at our restaurants or not to dine out and they can choose to go to a city right next door, that is super scary."

Ingram said he supports people getting vaccinated, noting 99% of his staff is vaccinated, but worries about a mandate for customers.

"Safety is not new to the restaurant industry but when you have to tell your guests what they have to do, that becomes something entirely different," Ingram said.

Hospitality Minnesota President and CEO Liz Rammer issued the following statement to 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS:

"We are disheartened by today’s announcement by Mayors Frey and Carter. We share their grave concern for the public’s health and safety. Yet, this new vaccine and testing mandate for businesses serving food and beverages adds another enormous challenge for hospitality business as our operators struggle with historic labor shortages and a stalled economic recovery, as reported in our recent survey on business conditions. Once again, the burden is being placed on businesses to enforce this additional mandate, putting them at a further competitive disadvantage and in a difficult position with the public and their frontline workers. As this goes into effect, it is crucial that both mayors are absolutely clear about the metrics that will drive the lifting of these mandates to help these businesses get on the other side of this latest surge."

Minnesota Licensed Beverage Association Executive Director Tony Chesak issued the following statement:

"We understand the seriousness of COVID and the public health for the community, patrons, and employees. The hospitality industry has complied with all the mandates, regulations, and more for COVID. But it’s hard to understand a vaccination mandate that’s unjustified and unscientific. It targets just one specific industry after zero science or data driving the decision, and zero caring about our dedicated front-line workers who will now add "enforcement agent" to their plates. The only scientific thing we know is that it has devastated the hospitality industry in other cities with these same mandates.

"They say we’re in this together – but this mandate shows that the hospitality industry is clearly targeted alone. We know both vaccinated and unvaccinated people spread the virus. And it happens at schools, work-out facilities, other retailers, sporting events, and more."

The Minnesota Medical Association released the following statement Thursday:

"The more than 11,000 physician, resident, and medical student members, of the Minnesota Medical Association applaud the leadership of Minneapolis and St. Paul for taking the decisive yet temporary step to require patrons of restaurants, concerts, and other public venues that serve food and beverages to show proof of vaccination or negative test results. As the Omicron variant continues to spread and exacerbate pressure on hospital capacity and our already weary healthcare workers, we need strong measures such as this to curb this pandemic. We urge other communities across the state to consider similar temporary actions. The best defense against COVID-19 and serious complications remains vaccination and boosters. Well-fitted masks, social distancing, washing your hands, staying home when you’re sick, and getting tested if you have symptoms offer additional protection. These are all ways that Minnesotans can practice good health, protect your friends and loved ones, and demonstrate support for the thousands of healthcare workers who continue to selflessly care for patients on the front lines."