MINNEAPOLIS — Restaurants and bars have been open for nearly a month now in Minnesota, but not all customers are taking the same approach.
Josh Harrisville, who has been working from home in the Marcy-Holmes neighborhood, remains cautious and avoids indoor settings.
“I’ve been going out to a couple of patios,” Harrisville said. “No bars.”
But Naomi Wolf, a student at the University of Minnesota, abides by even stricter precautions. She limits her socializing only to roommates and her immediate circle, and she said she’s not comfortable going to bars or restaurants yet.
“It just kind of freaks me out,” Wolf said. “And it’s not really the most conscientious thing to do for the community.”
But Wolf said she’s troubled by some of her peers, who’ve rushed to the bars in nearby Dinkytown despite the continued presence of COVID-19 in the community.
“As much as I can understand being a young person and wanting to enjoy summer here, I feel like it’s not really the best thing to do,” Wolf said.
Wolf’s concerns are echoed by the Minnesota Department of Health.
Data shows that people in their twenties now make up the most COVID-19 cases in the state, and the department identified four bars on Friday as being “associated” with the spread of the virus – including two in Minneapolis. Kris Ehresmann, the infectious disease director for MDH, said in a press conference that the department is investigating more than 30 cases associated with Kollege Klub and Cowboy Jack’s between June 14 and June 21.
Ehresmann again stressed the importance of wearing masks and staying six feet apart while socializing in public settings.
“We desperately need younger Minnesotans to take COVID and COVID precautious seriously,” she said.
Although they can’t control all of their customers’ behavior, restaurants and bars in Minnesota have taken significant steps to limit the spread of COVID-19 and must follow strict guidelines.
David Fhima, the owner of Fhima’s in downtown Minneapolis, said all customers must wear a mask when they enter his restaurant and cannot take it off until they reach the table without wait staff nearby. The restaurant also makes hand sanitizer available for each customer, and employees spray down surfaces constantly.
“None of the tables are set,” Fhima said. “When you come in, they get sanitized literally in front of you.”
Fhima said most in his industry are being cautious, because nobody wants to see another shutdown like the ones occurring in Florida and Texas. Restaurants and bars can’t afford more setbacks, especially in the Twin Cities, where places like Fhima’s have dealt with both the COVID-19 pandemic and major property damage from looting.
“If they pull back again, I think it’ll be devastating for our industry,” Fhima said. “But, that is not my main concern. I’m concerned about safety of our guests and Minnesotans.”