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New vaccine mandate met with mixed reactions in the Twin Cities

Businesses say they're preparing team members on how to address customers with the new mandate, and ask for the public to be patient and kind.

MINNEAPOLIS — It’s a new mandate which is coming as no surprise for many in the Twin Cities.

"I was surprised it hadn’t come sooner honestly," said Katie Froehle who lives in Minneapolis. 

Omicron cases continue to surge, overwhelming hospitals across the area. 

In this latest round of COVID mandates, both Minneapolis and St. Paul will require proof of vaccinations or a negative COVID test in order to enter any restaurants, bars, theaters or sports arenas starting Jan. 19. 

"If it's going to be a whole bunch of people indoors especially since it's winter, we don’t exactly have the possibility of spreading out outside all the time I think it's smart," said Danny Dahlquist who lives in Minneapolis. 

Similar mandates have been implemented in other major cities like New York and LA.

"I think its nice that we’re now following suit with other cities," said Froehle. 

"A few weeks ago I went to a concert and they required the proof of vaccination, or the dodgeball league I'm in requires proof of vaccination," said Dahlquist. 

But for those in the hospitality industry, left with the task of enforcing these rules, it's easier said than done if you ask Luke Shimp who owns both the Red Cow and Red Rabbit restaurants. 

"We end up becoming the referee and that really puts our folks in a tough spot," said Shimp. 

Liz Rammer, President and CEO at Hospitality Minnesota released a statement calling the new restrictions "disheartening," adding that it will be another major challenge for hospitality businesses to take on.

"We are disheartened by today’s announcement by Mayors Frey and Carter. We share their grave concern for the public’s health and safety," Rammer's statement reads. "Yet, this new vaccine and testing mandate for businesses serving food and beverages adds another enormous challenge for hospitality business as our operators struggle with historic labor shortages and a stalled economic recovery, as reported in our recent survey on business conditions. Once again, the burden is being placed on businesses to enforce this additional mandate, putting them at a further competitive disadvantage and in a difficult position with the public and their frontline workers. As this goes into effect, it is crucial that both mayors are absolutely clear about the metrics that will drive the lifting of these mandates to help these businesses get on the other side of this latest surge."

For Shimp and his team, the last two years have been met with challenging lessons of how to adapt and this time around he says will be no different. 

"We’re going to have to overcome it and we’re getting ready to have a company zoom next week on Tuesday to just talk about that," said Shimp. 

He went on to say, "we just have to figure out how to serve our guests that want to come and serve them the best way possible and then also for those who don’t you know we have to go and to go has been very robust throughout the pandemic.”

A pandemic which has challenged us all in one way or another. 

"You know I'm sick of all the stuff too but lets do our best, vaccinate big deal," said Sue Ivey who was in downtown Minneapolis visiting her daughter. 

Business owners say they'll be spending the next week or so preparing their staff on how to address customers with this new mandate, and they're simply asking for everyone to be patient and kind, as we're all in this together.

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