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Indoor service for bars, restaurants resumes in Minnesota

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minnesota bars and restaurants may resume indoor service with limits starting Monday, as COVID-19 cases have been declining.

The eased restrictions return bars and restaurants about to where they were operating before Gov. Tim Walz imposed a “pause” in response to soaring cases in November. They can resume indoor service at 50% capacity, but must still abide by 10 pm. curfews and take measures to distance people.

The restrictions had generated sharp pushback, with some bars and restaurants defiantly reopening in recent weeks, risking fines and losses of their liquor licenses. The state has gone to court against several violators.

Other businesses are also seeing some loosened restrictions starting Monday. Indoor entertainment venues such as movie theaters, bowling alleys and museums can reopen at 25% capacity for a maximum of 150 people in each area of the venue. Face coverings will remain required, and they can’t serve food after 10 p.m.

The changes come a day after Minnesota health officials announced that they have confirmed five cases of a more contagious variant of the coronavirus in the Twin Cities area. The development doesn’t surprise officials, but they said it underscores the importance of slowing spread of the virus by wearing masks, maintaining social distance and quarantining if exposed.