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St. Paul’s vaccine-or-test mandate only applies to about one-third of restaurants – Twin Cities

St. Paul’s mandate requiring patrons of bars and restaurants to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative test is not as far-reaching as Minneapolis’ — it applies to all bars, but only about one-third of restaurants, city officials said Thursday.

The difference between St. Paul’s and Minneapolis’ rules comes down to licensing. Restaurants in St. Paul are licensed by the Minnesota Department of Health, while in Minneapolis they’re licensed by the city.

St. Paul can only enforce rules for businesses it has licensing power over, said Suzanne Donovan, Department of Safety and Inspections spokeswoman, on Thursday, the day after the mayors of both cities announced the executive orders as coronavirus cases have been surging with the highly contagious omicron variant.

Mayor Melvin Carter’s executive order in the capital city is for establishments that are licensed by the city, and serve food and/or beverages to be consumed on premises indoors.

Meanwhile, Thursday’s decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to halt a requirement for employees to get vaccinated or test regularly led to a change in Carter’s order for workers at businesses covered by the mandate.


Donovan says the following places are included in the St. Paul mandate for vaccination or testing:

  • About 230 on-site liquor licenses held by bars, restaurants, distilleries and breweries.
  • Bowling alleys, movie theaters and theaters that serve food or drinks because they’re licensed by the city.
  • Sports venues Xcel Energy Center and Allianz Field.
  • Rental halls and hotels that might host weddings or other private events, if they’re serving food or drinks.

An estimated two-thirds of restaurants in St. Paul, including fast food places and coffee shops, do not have liquor licenses and are not included in the requirement for patrons to show proof of vaccination or a negative test result, or to wear masks, Donovan said.

People visiting restaurants, bars, indoor stadiums and other venues in St. Paul and Minneapolis will need to show proof of COVID vaccination or a negative test, the mayors of both cities announced Wednesday, Jan. 12. 2022. The temporary order will take effect in St. Paul on Jan. 19 for non-ticketed events and Jan. 26 for ticketed events. It will start next Wednesday in Minneapolis. The decisions are driven by the surge in COVID cases, according to St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter and Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey. (Pioneer Press)

The city is still encouraging those businesses to take as many COVID-19 precautions as possible — owners can put requirements in place on their own.

The temporary emergency order will take effect in St. Paul next Wednesday for non-ticketed events and Jan. 26 for ticketed events. It will start next Wednesday in Minneapolis.

The original order signed Wednesday by Carter cited OSHA requirements for employees of businesses covered by the mandate to also be vaccinated or show negative test results. With the Supreme Court staying those requirements, Carter signed a new order on Thursday that removed the requirement for employees.

“Yesterday’s announcement was in line with our commitment to do everything we can to keep residents and workers safe,” Carter said in a statement Thursday. “We are monitoring the Court’s decision today, and will continue keeping that promise within the bounds of its impacts.”


Some establishments have already been requiring proof of vaccination or a negative test, and two St. Paul businesses said it’s gone well for them.

“It has been an asset for us,” said Peter Drinan, chef and general manager at restaurant W.A. Frost. “There have been tons of people — all different ages, all different socioeconomic backgrounds, all political parties — who have felt more comfortable coming in.”

In fact, Drinan said, the Selby Avenue restaurant’s numbers were at pre-pandemic levels during the holiday season.

The requirement at W.A. Frost took effect in September. The Black Hart of St. Paul on University Avenue also adopted the same requirement. The bar has had the policy in place on Fridays and Saturdays after 8 p.m., and before and after Minnesota United games — times when it’s especially busy.

“For every angry person who gives us a hard time, there’s probably 10 people who go out of their way to thank us for it,” said Wes Burdine, the bar’s owner.

For anyone who didn’t know about the requirement at Black Hart, staff at the door would tell them how to download the Docket app that the state started to provide people with digital copies of their vaccine records. “It’s really been a lifesaver,” Burdine said.

Jessica Fleming contributed to this report.

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