Sun, 28 May 2023

Restaurants protest Minneapolis Covid mandates, sue city

Robert Besser
23 Jan 2022, 23:09 GMT+10

MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota: The city of Minneapolis and its mayor are being sued by restaurant and bar owners, in response to new orders requiring them to check on the Covid status of customers prior to serving them.

In the suit, which includes naming Mayor Jacob Frey, restaurant and bar owners object to a new rule that customers must show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test to eat or drink in a restaurant or bar.

The restaurants and bars have asked a judge to stop the city from enforcing the new requirement.

According to the new regulations, customers must provide either proof of vaccination or proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken under medical supervision within the last 72 hours.

The restaurants and bars said in their lawsuit that Minneapolis' rules pose significant challenges and contradict guidance and recommendations from the state, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and medical experts across the country, "all of which adamantly promote and encourage at-home testing."

For his part, Frey has argued that the vaccine requirement for indoor dining spaces is necessary to avoid city-wide closures, as the city's community transmission rate exceeded 1,300 cases per 100,000 people, putting the city in the "high-risk area category," according to CDC criteria.

Some 79 percent of Minneapolis residents are fully vaccinated, according to authorities.

Francis Rondoni, a Minneapolis attorney representing the restaurants, said the mayor did not follow the legislative process and does not have the legal authority to issue the order.

Rondoni noted that the city order places an unfair burden on restaurant owners, who have already been hit hard financially by the COVID-19 pandemic. He added that the restaurants cannot enforce a public health policy, and that they are losing customers to suburban bars. They also are being forced to hire additional help amid staff shortages to try and meet the mandate.

"The mayor especially issued an order by fiat," Rondoni said. "He just doesn't get to issue orders on his own. The problem is, is that when you bypass the legislative process in the city, then the bar owners and restaurant owners don't have an opportunity to be heard and they are damaged here," as quoted by the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

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