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Minneapolis, St. Paul lift vaccine, negative COVID test requirement for bars and restaurants

The cities are ending stricter COVID regulations following a downward trend in case numbers and hospital admissions, but mask requirements are still in effect.

MINNEAPOLIS — St. Paul and Minneapolis are ending their regulations requiring people entering food and drink establishments to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative test. 

According to a news release from the cities, the rule change is effective immediately.

The move comes as COVID-19 case numbers and new hospitalizations continue to edge downward, with "current CDC data for Ramsey County over the past seven days showing a 57.8% drop in cases, and a 37.89% decline in new hospital admissions."

“We are grateful to be in a different place now than we were when this requirement first took effect,” said St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter in the release. “While I encourage residents to continue to get vaccinated, wear masks, and practice social distancing while indoors, the sharp decline in cases and hospitalizations means we can safely lift the vaccine requirement in our city.”

“Key public health metrics are trending in the right direction,” Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey echoed in a statement. “That is a welcomed sign for Minneapolis, especially for the small businesses and restaurants that have shouldered the weight of this pandemic. Let’s hold the momentum and bring our city back in full by continuing to follow public health guidance and supporting local businesses.”

Businesses may continue to require their own vaccine or testing requirements if they choose to do so.

Both Minneapolis and St. Paul's mask mandate policies remain in effect. 

In St. Paul, masks are required indoors at all times when social distancing of six feet or more can't be maintained inside city-controlled property or businesses licensed by the city. 

In Minneapolis, the mask requirement affects all businesses within city limits and "places of public accommodation," defined as "any indoor locations where members of the public may gather, visit, or patronize and can include, but are not limited to, bars, restaurants, museums, theaters, schools, recreational facilities, retail locations, and service offices."

As for a timetable for when the mask mandate may also be lifted, the City of Minneapolis released a statement saying, in part, "the City will be looking for trends in the data that indicate a stabilization in COVID transmission -- hospital beds in use, case rates, deaths, positivity rate, vaccination rate, hospital capacity, vaccination breakthrough data, etc."

RELATED: Duluth mayor letting city's mask requirement expire Saturday

Last month, the mayors of St. Paul and Minneapolis announced the COVID-19 policy for indoor food establishments. The requirement started on Jan. 19 in both cities; ticketed events and venues had until Jan. 26 to comply in both cities.

At that time, patrons at indoor food establishments in both Minneapolis and St. Paul were required to show a negative PCR or antigen test (within 72 hours), or proof of vaccine.

The negative COVID test requirement applied to people ages 5 and older in both Minneapolis and St. Paul. Vaccine proof was accepted from the vaccine-eligible population, age 5 and older, in both cities.

The testing/vaccine requirement applied to indoor areas of restaurants, bars, theaters, sports venues, entertainment venues and convention centers that serve food, and catering halls, but didn't impact schools, hospitals, congregate care facilities, and grocery stores. Grab-and-go or food pick-up orders were also exempt.

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