Minneapolis restaurants, bars and cafes to close as mayor declares emergency

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey has declared a local emergency amid the coronavirus outbreak that will grant him additional powers. He has ordered restaurants, cafes and bars to close by noon Tuesday, March 17. File photo

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey has declared a state of emergency in response to the coronavirus outbreak and has ordered the closure of bars, restaurants, nightclubs and coffee shops in the city in an effort to reduce gatherings during the pandemic.

Restaurants will be limited to delivery, takeout and drive thru orders beginning at noon Tuesday, March 17, Frey’s office announced Monday. The city will stop issuing permits for events expected to draw more than 50 people.

“Clarity in purpose and the ability to act decisively are vital in protecting public health and effectively responding to the evolving threats posed by COVID-19,” Frey said. “Our team will remain in constant communication with leadership in city hall and partners throughout Minnesota while we work to promote mitigation strategies, deliver core city services, and deploy resources where they are needed most.”

As of March 16, there are 54 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Minnesota, including more than 20 in Hennepin County, according to the Minnesota Department of Health.

The declaration provides the mayor additional powers and authorities under the state of emergency that will allow Frey to approve contracts for the city on public health matters, implement rules limiting the number of people allowed to congregate in a building and authorizing aid and assistance for response and recovery plans.  The City Council will need to approve of the declaration within 72 hours for it to continue. Council President Lisa Bender (Ward 10) said that meeting will take place Thursday and that she supported Frey’s move.

“This is an extraordinary time and it will take collaboration, commitment, resilience and creativity from all of us working together to support the health and well-being of city employees, residents, visitors and businesses in Minneapolis,”Bender said. “I am working with my colleagues and Mayor Frey to center our commitments to race and economic equity in our response COVID-19.”

Last week the mayor announced the city will suspend all water shutoffs for the next month. Frey is also urging the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office to halt eviction enforcement in Minneapolis for at least two weeks during the crisis.

“We foresee that the impacts of COVID-19 will last beyond a [14-day] suspension, especially for our low-income workers, especially for those in the hospitality industry,” Frey wrote in a letter to Hennepin County Sheriff Dave Hutchinson.

The city will move to purchase additional protective gear for municipal employees at risk of exposure.