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Restaurants, customers respond to Walz's reopening plan

Step one removes limits for outdoor dining and ends the mask requirement outdoors except at large venues starting Friday, May 7.

EXCELSIOR, Minn. — Just in time for the weekend, loosened restrictions on restaurants and bars are coming and the changes are a welcome announcement for some. 

Step one, which relaxes some restrictions primarily in outdoor settings, takes place at noon on May 7. 

It removes limits for outdoor dining, events, and other get-togethers, and ends the mask requirement outdoors except at large venues with over 500 people.

It also eliminates the state-established mandatory closing time for bars, restaurants, and food and beverage service at other places of public accommodation.

Step two begins on May 28, at which point remaining capacity and distancing limits will come to an end, including for indoor events and gatherings, but face coverings continue inside.

In downtown Excelsior, Lago Tacos assistant General Manager, Savannah McDeid, is especially excited. 

"Let's go," she said. "Let's get people back out, let's enjoy this Minnesota summer."

The governor's past restrictions meant her indoor seating was limited to just seven tables, and with fewer customers the restaurant only stayed open until 8 p.m. 

Lago Tacos prevailed, though, with a thriving take-out service. McDeid says it now accounts for half of their sales. The upcoming increase in capacity inside will force her to decide whether that will continue.

"It really goes to the strength of our team and how we've worked together to be able to keep putting that out and as we start to plan for the summer, to find the balance of doing both," said McDeid.

While Lago Tacos can add at least 10 more tables inside by the end of the month, some people won't snap right back. Karen Veil says she plans to proceed more cautiously. 

"Because I'm an elder, I think I fear COVID-19 maybe more so. It doesn't bother me to wear a mask outside as long as I feel comfortable doing it and safer doing it," said Veil.

She says she'll likely wear a mask even throughout the summer, and local businesses have the right to still require that too.

"I think we need to stay safe as long as we can," said Veil. 

The Minnesota Licensed Beverage Association said the "end is in sight."

Hospitality Minnesota echoed that saying, "Brighter days are ahead," and is asking people to support local businesses.