Gov. Tim Walz announced in an online address on Wednesday, May 20 that salons and restaurants will be able open on June 1 in an update to the current Stay Safe MN order, what Walz says is phase two of reopening the economy in Minnesota.

Restaurants and bars will be allowed to open for outside dining options in addition to take out and delivery, and said that salons and barbershops will be allowed a "measured" approach to reopening, as well. Masks will be required at all establishments for employees, and are required for customers entering salons. Reservations will also be required so establishments can limit capacity. Salons will be allowed to operate at 25% of fire code capacity, while outside dining options will be limited to 50 people, and must be spaced six feet apart. For restaurants, reservations are limited to parties of four are the maximum, or parties of six in one household.

Campgrounds and charter boats will also be allowed to open at a reduced capacity, as well. 

Walz doubled down on his decisions to control the closing and slow reopening of the economy during the COVID-19 pandemic, saying, "These health guidelines are not an impediment to opening the economy; they're the key to opening the economy...Consumers are going to make the choice and go back where it’s safe. It’s our choice on how we act that will impact others health."

Walz used the analogy of keeping the "pot" of the virus "at a simmer," and cautioning that not following the guidelines could lead to a "boiling point" of a surge that the healthcare system would not be able to handle. 

Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development Commissioner Steve Groves also laid out plans for the next two phases following the Stay Safe MN order, though he nor Gov. Walz would announce an expected timeline. 

Phase three would allow for social gatherings of 20 people or less, and allowing patrons to dine at restaurants and bars indoors. The maximum capacity for the dining establishments would be 50%, and personal care services, including salons, would also be able to move to 50%.

Phase three will also allow for outdoor entertainment venues to open, like movies or concerts in the park, with a limited capacity of people allowed. Places of worship will be capped at 10 people indoors, but can hold outdoor services with 100 people or less. Pools will also be allowed to open at a reduced capacity.

Phase four will allow gyms and fitness centers to reopen at a 50% capacity, and encourages masks worn whenever possible. It will also allow churches to gather outdoors at a maximum capacity of 250 outdoors. Bowling alleys, movie theaters, and other places of entertainment will open at a 25% capacity.

There has been no direction about youth sports, yet, with Groves saying that sports that can be played with less than ten people are allowed. Overnight camps are still not permitted.

Walz addressed criticism of his plan, particularly about places of worship and indoor dining at restaurants, by saying he and his cabinet have had "a lot of discussion back and forth," and his decisions come after close analysis of data about the virus's heightened spread due to a longer length of time and closeness of proximity, especially in relation to indoor gatherings.

"We are trying to move this in a manner that makes sense," Walz said.

Hannah Davis is the Area Editor at the Forest Lake Times. You can contact her at hannah.davis@ecm-inc.com or (763)233-0709

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