Important update - Executive Order 20-96 and MN Critical Infrastructure Guidance

food digest

November 11, 2020

In this issue

Changes for food establishments in Executive Order 20-96 and MN critical infrastructure guidance

Food establishment operators help to reduce COVID-19 risk

Operators of food establishments have stepped up to the challenge and have responded to the pandemic over the last several months. These operators have acknowledged the seriousness of the pandemic and have updated their policies and procedures to make their establishments safer places to be. Because of these efforts, and additional protections provided in Executive Order 20-96, Minnesotans can continue to confidently support their local businesses, recognizing their importance to our community and the economy.

Executive Order (EO) 20-96 includes changes for restaurants and bars

Executive Order 20-96 becomes effective Friday, Nov. 13, 2020, at 10 p.m. Highlights of these changes for restaurants and bars include:

  • Businesses must be closed to on-premises consumption of food or beverages between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m.
    • Take-out, delivery, drive-up, and other sales for offsite consumption may continue through regular business hours.
    • In recreational entertainment venues such as bowling allies, pool halls, and movie theaters, dine-in service of food and beverages must end, but the activities at those venues may continue until closing time.
  • Indoor occupant capacity is limited to no more than 50%, up to 150 people maximum.
    • If outdoor seating is offered, the combined total occupancy of all indoor and outdoor spaces is limited to 150 people.
  • Seating and service at bars and counters is no longer allowed, unless the bar or restaurant is a counter service-only establishment.
    • In establishments that have only counter service, physical distancing and queuing methods must be used to control congestion in lines and service areas. Patrons must return to their tables after completing their order.
  • All patrons must be seated at tables at all times.
    • Exceptions include when patrons are being seated, using the restroom, ordering at an establishment that does not offer table service.
  • Bar games like pool, darts, arcade games, beanbags or other games that require participants to leave their seats are not permitted.
  • “Lawful gambling” as defined in Minnesota Statutes 2019, 349.12, is allowed.
    • Customers in queuing areas (for example, to purchase pull tabs) must maintain physical distancing of at least 6 feet from other customers, and queuing areas must be marked to provide for physical distancing (for example, by using floor markings, lane lines, and/or marking of adjacent areas where customers may be waiting for service).
  • A bar or restaurant offering an exclusive and physically separated space (such as a ballroom or other private room) for customers to host a planned celebration, reception, or other social gathering must follow the requirements for capacity, dancing, and other activities found in the Gathering Requirements for Celebrations and Significant Life Events.

Additional guidance can be found in the Industry Guidance for Safely Reopening: Restaurants and Bars (PDF) document.


Restaurants should follow general isolation and quarantine guidelines

On Nov. 10, 2020, the Critical Infrastructure Guidelines were updated to clarify that restaurants and hospitality are not included in critical infrastructure. This means that restaurant and hospitality employees must follow the same guidelines for isolation and quarantine as other non-critical infrastructure employees. This information can be found in these documents: What to do if an employee has COVID-19 (PDF) and What to do if you have had close contact with a person with COVID-19 (PDF).



Executive Order 20-96 (PDF)

Industry Guidance for Safely Reopening: Restaurants and Bars (PDF)

Gathering Requirements for Celebrations and Significant Life Events (PDF)

Industry Guidance for Safely Reopening Recreational Entertainment Venues (PDF)

What to do if an employee has COVID-19 (PDF)

What to do if you have had close contact with a person with COVID-19 (PDF)

COVID-19 Recommendations for Critical Infrastructure Businesses (PDF)

Web resources

Visit for information on:

  • General environmental health 
  • Basic food safety classes 
  • Temporary food stand licensing 
  • Food license information, categories, and fee schedule 
  • New construction or remodeling application 

Radon information and test kits 

Septic system requirements and procedures

Body art licensing information (tattooing and piercing) 

Beaches in Hennepin County

Public swimming pool regulations

About us

Food Digest is a quarterly newsletter written by inspectors from Hennepin
County Public Health Department and designed to support and educate Hennepin County food facility owners and operators. Articles focus on food
safety and requirements from the Minnesota Food Code and Hennepin County food ordinance.


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Hopkins, MN 55343-9413

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Previous issues of Food digest available in our archive.

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Hannah Marschinke


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