Now that the "Stay At Home" order has expired we are entering the new "Stay Safe" phase, many businesses opened their doors to customers this week. Things may be back in business, but it is far from business as usual. The businesses that are allowed to open will have to do so implementing some new COVID safety guidelines.
At Flagship Bank, we re-opened our lobbies on Monday and like many other businesses have implemented many safety measures to keep our employees and customers safe. You will now find plexi-glass barriers at our teller stations, disposable masks and plenty of sanitizer available for you to use. There are also floor decals indicating what a safe 6 foot distance looks like if you are waiting in line. We are still encouraging our customers to use our drive up window and our many online Banking options, but if you choose to come inside, we've got you covered.
So, what businesses will reopen?
Retail stores, malls and other businesses can reopen for in-person shopping if they have social distancing policies in place for workers and customers — and if they operate at no more than 50 percent capacity at any time.
Can I dine in at a restaurant?
In a cautious plan for reopening close-contact businesses, Walz announced that restaurants can serve sit-down customers only at outdoor tables beginning June 1.
The new rules stop short of allowing customers to sit at the bar, in restaurant dining rooms or other indoor tables — for now.
Restaurant staff have to wear masks; customers who are waiting for food are encouraged to. There must be 6 feet between tables, and patios will have to operate at a lower capacity than normal — no more than 50 people at a time, with parties limited to four, or a family of six. Reservations will be required. Curbside pickup will be permitted as before.
Can I get a haircut?
Beginning in June, hair care businesses can provide in-shop services at maximum 25 percent capacity. Both workers and customers are required to wear a mask and workers must be stationed and remain 6 feet apart. Reservations will be required.
The same guidance allows tattoos parlors and spas to reopen.
Businesses are required to have clear plans for social distancing, sanitizing and other safety measures to keep coronavirus risks down. That includes mandatory mask wearing and a 25 percent capacity at first.
Are group gatherings allowed?
Yes, with limits. Group gatherings of 10 or fewer people, including at places of worship, will be permitted once again. People are still being asked to maintain 6 feet of distance from each other.
However, all gatherings of more than 10 people are still prohibited — even if it’s possible to social distance. For example: Sporting events, concerts, fundraisers, parades, festivals and other gatherings that bring together more than 10 people from more than one household are still not allowed.
Ideally, people should also wear masks, said state Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm. She also encouraged people to meet outside, which she said presents a bit more of a “safe zone” as compared to confined indoor spaces, and also stressed not to gather if anyone in the group is ill.
One big caveat: Officials strongly encourage the elderly and people with underlying health conditions to stay home as much as possible, because other people can transmit the coronavirus to members of vulnerable populations before they develop symptoms. And some people never develop symptoms, or the symptoms can be quite subtle.
Do I have to wear a mask in public? Or maintain 6 feet of distance from others?
Even as he announced the end of the stay-at-home order, Walz pleaded with Minnesotans to stay smart about being safe. He said he was counting on people to work from home if possible, wear masks when they leave the house, stay 6 feet away from others — even when they’re in groups of 10 or fewer — and get tested if they show symptoms of COVID-19.
Walz also signed a separate executive order strongly encouraging people at the greatest risk of serious illness — the elderly, and people with underlying health conditions like lung and heart disease, asthma or diabetes — to continue staying home.
“We are not requiring it, but it is strongly encouraged that if you are able to stay home — continue to stay home,” Walz said.
We can do this Minnesota. It may not be the summer we are used to, but after this is all over we will appreciate all of the amazing things we missed this year and enjoy them even more next year.