COVID-19 Resources for Retailers
A strong retail community is important during all seasons, but especially in times of uncertainty such as the conditions surrounding COVID-19. Below are resources for retailers.
(Updated May 6, 2021, 12:25 p.m.)
Looking for the guide to re-open your retail store or customer facing business? Click here! Now added: 30 minute webinar.
May 6: Governor Announces Three Steps In Easing COVID Restrictions & Ending Mask Mandate
Right now Governor Walz is addressing Minnesotans and announcing the next three steps in easing COVID-19 restrictions. Most restrictions will end May 28 and the statewide masking mandate will end July 1 or before.
Here is a summary of the steps:
- No limits/masks for outdoor events, except masks at large venues with over 500 people.
- No early bar and restaurant closing time.
- Remaining limits end, including restrictions on indoor events expect when there are more than 500 people.
- Capacity restrictions end but businesses must have a safety plan guided by a universal state guidance document.
July 1 or earlier:
- Statewide masking mandate dropped no later than July 1, but earlier if we reach 70% vaccination.
March 26: Governor Walz Opens Up Vaccine Eligibility To Minnesotans Age 16 And Up March 30
Beginning Tuesday, March 30, Minnesotans 16 years and older will be eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine under the latest announcement from Governor Walz this morning.
This is great news and comes several months ahead of the original expectation that vaccination eligibility would be wide open beginning this summer. The State continues to ask providers to prioritize those with any underlying health conditions when possible.
MnRA encourages all retail workers to get vaccinated. It's your turn!
MnRA extends a heartfelt thank you to pharmacies across the state that have done and will continue to go a tremendous job as vaccination partners.
"How to get your vaccine" recommendations from the State:
- "Sign up for the Minnesota COVID-19 Vaccine Connector. The Vaccine Connector will inform you about vaccine opportunities in your area.
- Use the Vaccine Locator Map to find vaccine providers near you.
- Contact your primary health care provider or a local pharmacy.
- Vaccine Connector users may also be randomly selected to make an appointment at one of the state’s COVID-19 Community Vaccination Program sites. If you are selected, you will be notified by text, email, or phone call by one of the state vaccination partners running those sites: Vault Health, Primary Bio or SpeciaLysts (Solv).
- Your employer may also reach out with information about vaccination opportunities."
March 12: Governor Walz Announces Big Dial Turn
- Masking and social distancing remains in place.
- Restaurant capacity moved to 75 percent with bar seating allowed for groups of four beginning at noon on March 15.
- Workers previously required to work from home may return to work in person April 15. Remote work is "strongly encouraged".
- Capacity limits on places of worship are lifted with social distancing and masking.
- Household gathering of 50 permitted outdoors and 15 indoors with no limit on number of households at noon on March 15.
- Gym capacity moved to 50 percent at noon on March 15.
- Capacity limits at salons and personal services are removed with social distancing and masking beginning at noon on March 15.
- Indoor events and entertainment at noon on March 15 can be open at 50 percent capacity, no more than 250 people. On April 1, 2021, venues with occupant capacity greater than 500 may increase capacity per state guidelines.
- Outdoor events and entertainment at noon on March 15 can be open at 50 percent capacity, no more than 250 people. On April 1, 2021, venues with occupant capacity greater than 500 may increase capacity per state guidelines.
February 12: Governor Renews Emergency Powers And Eases Some Restrictions Beginning Tomorrow
Today Minnesota Governor Tim Walz renewed his emergency powers for another 30 days and announced some easing of restrictions, citing declining COVID case counts.
Measures being changed beginning this Saturday at noon include:
- Restaurant and bars remains at a 50% indoor capacity limit, however the maximum capacity for indoor and outdoor is raised to 250 people. In addition, on-site dining is extended until 11:00 p.m.
- Food and beverage at outdoor events and entertainment is extended until 11:00 p.m. and outdoor space has a new maximum of 250 people.
- Indoor events and entertainment remain at 25% with a new maximum occupancy of 250 people. Food and beverage services is extended until 11:00 p.m.
- Gyms, fitness and pools remain capped at 25% capacity but the maximum number of people is raised to 250.
- Celebrations and receptions in venues have limit of up to 50 people. These events may not occur between 11:00 p.m. and 4:00 a.m.
General retail remains open at 100% with COVID precautions including social distancing.
January 6: Restaurants & Bars Indoor Service Opens At 50% Capacity This Coming Monday; Indoor Entertainment Reopens + Other Dial Turns
At a press conference going on now, Governor Walz is announcing the loosening of restrictions including restaurants and bars opening for in-person indoor service at 50% capacity (150 people maximum both indoor and outdoor, 6 people per table maximum) starting on January 11. Bar seating will be open for parties of 2 people with 6 feet of spacing. Reservations are still required and the 10:00 p.m.-4:00 a.m. closure for restaurants and bars will remain in place. Mall food courts following restaurant and bar guidance may open.
Other measures being announced this afternoon beginning January 11 include:
- Gyms will remain at 25% capacity, but the maximum is increased to 150 people. Masking is still required as well as 9 feet of social distancing. Fitness classes must not have more than 25 people.
- Indoor entertainment and events open to 25% capacity with a maximum of 150 people. This includes movie theaters, bowling alleys, and amusement. Face coverings are required and food service may not be offered after 10:00 p.m.
- Outdoor events and entertainment will remain at 25% capacity, but the maximum is increased to 250 people. Social distancing is required.
- Churches remain open at 50% capacity but with no maximum.
- Pools may open at 25% capacity with a maximum of 150 people
- Youth sports games may resume on January 14. Spectators are allowed at youth/high school sports with a 25% capacity and a maximum of 250 people outdoor or 150 people indoor. Masks are still required. Inter-region tournaments and out of state play is discouraged.
General retail remains open at 100% with COVID precautions including social distancing.
December 16: Restaurants & Bars Remain Closed For Indoor Dining Until January 11; Outdoor Dining Permitted; Gyms Open at 25%; Youth And Adult Sports Practices Resume January 4; Updates On Other Restrictions
In a press conference a few moments, Governor Walz extended his order for restaurants and bars closures for indoor, in-person dining until January 11. Restaurants and bars will be allowed to open outdoor seating starting the Saturday at 50% capacity (100 maximum, 4 people per table all seated). Other limits on outdoor dining include that outdoor shelters cannot be fully enclosed and restaurants and bars must close for outdoor dining between 10:00 pm and 4:00 a.m.
Other measures announced this afternoon:
- Social gatherings indoors will be limited to 2 households with a maximum of 10 people. Social gatherings outdoor will be limited to 3 households with a maximum of 15 people.
- Gyms, fitness centers and similar establishments can open at 25% capacity with masking with a maximum of 100 people starting Saturday. There must be 12 feet of social distancing and no group fitness classes until January 4. Pools remain closed.
- Organized youth and high school sports are able to resume practices on January 4. Games are not able to resume.
- Outdoor entertainment such as public skating rinks can open to 25% capacity up to 100 people with 6 feet social distancing.
- Indoor entertainment will remain closed until January 11
- Entertainment venues such as movie theaters, bowling alleys, etc. will remain closed.
- In-person learning at elementary schools can reopen January 18 (hybrid or in-person) with mandated masking and COVID testing. The testing will be supported by the State with funding request that is heading to the Legislature.
General retail remains open at 100% with COVID precautions including social distancing.Click here to see the Executive Order.
December 14: Important Relief For Businesses Impacted By Restrictions Under Executive Order 20-99 & Other COVID-19 Executive Orders + Unemployment Extension Passed By The Legislature
This evening during its seventh special session, Minnesota's Legislature passed relief for businesses impacted by Executive Order 20-99 and other COVID-19 executive orders as well as relief for Minnesotans with unemployment benefits set to expire soon.
Here is a summary of what passed in the $216.8 million business relief package:
- $88 million to businesses closed to the public under Executive Order 20-99 and experiencing at least a 30% sales decline (compared to 2019) that provide on-site food and beverages including bars, restaurants, breweries and wineries as well as bowling alleys and fitness or sports recreation centers. Relief amounts ($10,000 - $45,000) will be based on number of workers and be administered directly by the Minnesota Department of Revenue with distribution as soon as possible.
- $114.8 million directly to Minnesota counties for grants to eligible businesses and nonprofits impacted by any executive order related to COVID-19. Each county would receive a minimum of $256,250 or $19.25 per capita amount based on its 2019 population. Each Minnesota county will administer these relief funds including making eligibility decisions and can add their own eligibility requirements with disbursement of funds by March 13, 2021.
- $14 million for movie theaters and multipurpose convention centers with a capacity of at least 1,500 people. A per screen formula will be used to help movie theaters and several factors would be considered for convention center allocations. This relief will be administered by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.
Today's action also included important unemployment support for Minnesota's workers, including:
- An extension of unemployment benefits for individuals who exhaust their regular or pandemic unemployment benefits between December 19, 2020 and April 3, 2021 if an individual is eligible to receive additional unemployment benefits.
- Eligibility includes Minnesotans unemployed, partially unemployed, or unable to work due to lack of work and meet the requirements for regular unemployment benefits established in Minnesota Statutes.
Click here to see the text of the bill. It is expected that the Governor will sign the bill as soon as tomorrow.
There are many legislators who are due credit for championing this important relief package, and MnRA extends a special thank you to Sen. Eric Pratt and Rep. Tim Mahoney for their commitment to passing this package.
MnRA appreciates the leadership of the Legislature and Governor Walz, and his team, on this needed relief package which includes provisions advocated for by MnRA and many others.
November 18: Restaurants/Bars/Food Courts To Stop In-Person Service Beginning 11:59 P.M. Friday; Youth & Adult Sports Take a Pause; New Event, Entertainment & Social Gathering Restrictions
- Social gatherings will be limited to your own household (both indoor and outdoor) beginning Friday at 11:59 p.m.
- Gyms, fitness centers and similar establishments will be closed for four weeks beginning Friday at 11:59 p.m.
- Entertainment venues and indoor/outdoor seated venues will be closed for four weeks, including bowling alleys, movie theaters, indoor ice rinks, live performance venues, public pools, and swim parks beginning Friday at 11:59 p.m.
- Organized youth and adult sports will be pausing for four weeks. College and professional sports may continue without spectators beginning Friday at 11:59 p.m.
- Indoor recreation facilities will be closed for four weeks beginning Friday at 11:59 p.m.
- Events such as celebrations, receptions and private parties will be paused for four weeks beginning Friday at 11:59 p.m. Religious ceremonies and services may continue.
- General retail open at 100% with COVID precautions including social distancing.
- Churches and worship centers remain open at 50% capacity.
- Salons and other personal care services remain open at 50% capacity.
- Outdoor recreation such as skating and skiing remain open.
- Schools continue to operate under the Safe Learning Plan at the discretion of local school districts.
- Child care providers can remain open.
- Colleges and universities continue to operate under guidance from the State.
November 10: Retail Capacity Clarified At 100% Capacity With COVID Safety Precautions; Restaurants & Bars To Stop In-Person Service At 10 P.M.; New Wedding & Event Restrictions
Today the Walz administration clarified in guidance documents that retailers subject to the 50 percent capacity limitation may now operate at 100 percent capacity under COVID safety precautions. This move recognizes the short time customers are in retail stores and how the industry has created safe shopping environments for customers and employees. This announcement is welcomed by the vast majority of retailers who recently told MnRA that absent a capacity increase, their viability was in question as the holidays approach.
MnRA extends a special thank you to Representatives Heather Edelson, Jeff Brand, Dave Lislegard, Kristin Robbins, and Dave Baker for their work with the administration on clarifying retail capacity. Also, thank you to the Minnesota Ready Coalition for its advocacy on changing retail capacity.
While retailers may be open at 100 percent, MnRA encourages all retailers to ensure occupancy levels allow for proper social distancing and continue to follow the State's retail industry guidance.
The guidance has been updated on the DEED website: https://mn.gov/covid19/for-minnesotans/stay-safe-mn/stay-safe-plan.jsp and https://mn.gov/deed/newscenter/covid/safework/business/
MnRA thanks the administration for making this change in advance of the important holiday shopping season.
In-Person Restaurant & Bar Service To Stop At 10:00 P.M. Beginning Friday, November 13
At a press conference today, Governor Walz announced several changes he said are designed to address rising COVID case numbers. In addition to more testing sites, the Governor is ordering restaurants across the to stop in-person service at 10:00 p.m. The Governor said that cases linked to restaurants and bars after 10:00 p.m. are large in number. In addition there are new limits on games such as pool and darts (no bar games that require standing are permitted), and bar/counter service is closed.
In addition, weddings and related events are dialed back to 50 people on November 27 and 25 people after December 11. Also private gatherings are limited to 10 people from no more than three households. Overall events currently at 250 capacity will be dialed back to 150.
Proposed Small Business Support
The Governor also proposed $10 million in additional funding for business relief, targeted toward restaurants and bars impacted by today’s changes. According to the Governor this will help 1,000 more businesses pay bills and pay workers.
Today Governor Walz announced Executive Order 20-81. This order requires face coverings in indoor spaces and public buildings including retail stores, and in similar outdoor settings where social distancing is not possible. This mandate will go into effect on July 25.
Signage will be required at retail stores. Retailers will be required to make a reasonable effort to educate non-compliant customers. Retailers will be required to deal with a non-compliant customers in a manner similar to how they would deal with any other non-compliant customers relative to store policy.
Any retailer or other impacted party that blatantly disregards the order will be subject to penalties including up to a $1,000 fine or by imprisonment for not more than 90 days.
Business obligations, what a face covering is, and exemptions can be found here: https://www.health.state.mn.us/diseases/coronavirus/facecover.html
Impacted businesses are required to update their COVID-19 preparedness plan accordingly. Preparedness Plan Requirement Guidance for retail stores can be found here: https://mn.gov/deed/assets/reopening-minnesotas-consumer-facing-businesses_tcm1045-431883.pdf
Local orders that exceed the state order are not preempted, but an analysis by MnRA shows a majority of local masking requirements are superseded by the state order.
In summary, retailers are required to:
- Ensure workers and customers are masked.
- Update COVID-19 preparedness plans to reflect the masking requirement.
- Treat non-compliant customers as you would any other customer violating a store policy.
- Post signage indicating masking is required.
See MnRA's statement on the masking order here: https://www.mnretail.org/news/item/mn