Important COVID-19 updates - dialing back, small business relief fund, virtual conversation for food businesses

food digest

November 24, 2020

In this issue

Executive Order 20-99 dial back

dial back

In accordance with Executive Order 20-99 (EO), activities at your facility may be limited. The limitations are described below and will be in place from Friday, Nov. 20, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. through Friday, Dec. 18, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. Please refer to the Stay Safe Minnesota website for the most up to date information. Many, but not all, businesses will have to pause in-person activities for the next four weeks. Please review the guidance below for industry-specific requirements.

  • Restaurants and bars
  • Public pools
  • Lodging establishments
  • Why are we dialing back on certain activities for four weeks?
  • Resources

Restaurants and bars

Indoor and outdoor onsite dining closed

Food establishments are required to stop all onsite food and beverage service including both indoor and outdoor. This includes restaurants, food courts, cafes, coffeehouses, bars, taverns, brewer taprooms, microdistiller cocktail rooms, farm wineries, craft wineries, cideries, golf courses and clubs, dining clubs, and other places of Public Accommodation.

Offsite consumption is allowed

These establishments may offer food and beverages for offsite consumption using delivery services, window service, walk-up service, drive-through service, or drive-up service. Precautions must be taken to limit the potential transmission of COVID-19, including physical distancing of 6 feet.

Retail establishments who sell food to be consumed offsite are not included in this pause, so long as there is no onsite food consumption. These include farmers’ markets, grocery stores, pharmacies, drug stores, hardware stores, retail outlets, bakeries, and food pantries. These settings must not offer food and beverage, including samples, for onsite consumption.

Customers picking up to-go orders

Customers may enter a food establishment to retrieve food or beverage orders that will be consumed offsite. Only five members of the public may be in an establishment at one time for the purpose of picking up their food or beverage orders. Queuing areas must be marked to provide for physical distancing of 6 feet between customers (for example, by using floor markings, lane lines, and/or marking of adjacent areas where customers may be waiting for service).

Drive-through and curbside delivery service is strongly encouraged.

Buffets, salad bars, and other customer self-service

Self-service buffets, salad bars, and other customer self-service food areas in restaurants must be closed.

Self-service beverage dispensers in take-out restaurants are allowed

Customer self-service of salad bars and similar food areas in grocery and convenience stores for offsite consumption is allowed. Queuing areas must be marked to provide for physical distancing of 6 feet (for example, by using floor markings, lane lines, and/or marking of adjacent areas where customers may be waiting for service).

Mobile food units and seasonal temporary food stands (“food trucks”)

Mobile food units and seasonal temporary food stands (“food trucks”) can operate. No onsite consumption is allowed. Staff must follow physical distancing requirements to keep at least 6 feet apart, so trucks may have to operate with a limited number of staff.

Food courts, food halls, and other counter service within mixed-use retail spaces

Food court seating areas must be closed.

Food and beverages may be offered for offsite consumption only.

Employees at shopping malls and similar retail locations may obtain food at food courts to consume within designated employee break rooms.

Find State guidance at COVID-19 Restaurants and Bars under Executive Order 20-99 (PDF)

Public Pools

Public pools must close

Public pools are defined in Minnesota Statutes 2020, Section 1444.1222. These include spa pools, wading pools, and special purpose pools.

“Public pool" means any pool other than a private residential pool, that is:

  • open to the public generally, whether for a fee or free of charge;
  • open exclusively to members of an organization and their guests;
  • open to residents of a multiunit apartment building, apartment complex, residential real estate development, or other multifamily residential area;
  • open to patrons of a hotel or lodging or other public accommodation facility; or
  • operated by a person in a park, school, licensed child care facility, group home, motel, camp, resort, club, condominium, manufactured home park, or political subdivision

Swimming pools at family day care homes licensed under section 245A.14, subdivision 11, paragraph (a) are not “public pools.”

Some therapy pools may remain open

Pools used exclusively for rehabilitation or medical care under the direction of a physical therapist or other licensed medical professional may remain open.

Find State guidance at COVID-19 Guidance for Public Pools and Aquatic Facilities (PDF)

Lodging establishments

Food and beverage service at lodging establishments

Dining rooms and bars at hotels, motels, and similar lodging establishments must be closed.

Lodging establishments may provide food service for guests under the following conditions:

  • Continental breakfast and other self-service dining operations must close. Hotel staff may offer food in take-out containers or covered trays for guests to bring to their rooms.
  • Guests may order take-out food and beverages from onsite restaurants to consume in their rooms.
  • Room service is allowed. Food should be delivered to rooms in wrapped containers or on covered trays.
  • Guests may obtain items from vending areas or retail operations and take them to their rooms.

Swimming pools, spas, and fitness rooms must close

  • All public pools and spas must be closed, including those at lodging facilities, recreational campgrounds, manufactured home parks, and youth camps.
  • Fitness rooms, saunas, game rooms, and gyms must be closed, including those at lodging facilities, recreational campgrounds, manufactured home parks, and youth camps.


Why are we dialing back on certain activities for four weeks?

Throughout the month of November, the data has made clear with each passing day that we need to take decisive and aggressive action to contain the most recent phase of the pandemic. Minnesota recently topped 200,000 total confirmed COVID-19 cases for the first time. It took Minnesota more than 6 months to record 100,000 COVID-19 cases, but only 42 days to add an additional 100,000 new cases. We averaged a state record of almost 6,000 cases per day over the previous week, breaking a single-day record for COVID-19 deaths (58) on Nov. 11 and new cases (8,689) on Nov. 14. The Minnesota Department of Health’s (MDH) most recent weekly COVID-19 report found that the current average rates of new COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and intensive care unit admissions, and deaths are the highest they have been since the start of the pandemic, far exceeding the numbers we saw in the worst points of our surges in April and May. We need strong action to control our future case numbers.

Business and activities are affected differently. For a full listing of all business and activity requirements and limitations, see the full executive order at Executive Orders from Governor Walz.



Employees must follow MDH return to work guidelines

If staff had close contact with someone with diagnosed or suspected COVID-19, has COVID-19 symptoms or tested positive for COVID-19, follow MDH’s guidelines for COVID-19: When to Return to Work.

In Minnesota, restaurants and hospitality are not part of critical infrastructure. Restaurant and hotel employees that are close contacts of COVID-19 cases must self-quarantine for 14 days from the last day they were exposed to the person with COVID-19 even if the exposed person has a negative test.

Small business relief fund

Local funding opportunities to support businesses impacted by COVID-19

To reduce the economic impacts that will occur due to the recent Executive Orders, the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners allocated $8 million in CARES Act funds on Tuesday, November 17, to support restaurants, bars, and food service establishments.  

In addition, approximately $5 million in CARES Act funds remains from prior Small Business Relief rounds and is available to support gymnasiums, fitness facilities, and other indoor recreation, event, and entertainment venues.

Grant amounts

  • Businesses who have not previously received Hennepin County Small Business Relief funds can apply for grants of $15,000.
  • Businesses who have previously received Hennepin County Small Business Relief funds can apply for additional grants of $10,000

Applications will be available starting 11/23/2020 and the deadline to apply is 12/1/2020 at noon. Visit the Hennepin County Small Business Relief Fund website for more information, including additional qualifications, and how to apply. 

Virtual COVID-19 Executive Order Conversation for Food Businesses | December 4

The COVID-19 Conversations for Food Businesses are virtual events to learn and ask questions related to COVID-19 requirements, and an opportunity for you and others to share what has and has not worked for you and your business during this difficult time

*COVID-19 Conversations will not have CEU’s for CFPM’s


Date and time:

Friday, December 4th, 2020

8:30-9:30 am


Topics include:

  • Executive Order 20-99 Requirements
  • COVID-19 Business Modifications
  • Food Donations
  • Contact Tracing and Press Releases
  • Complaint Process
  • When to Contact your Health Inspector
  • 2021 Food and Beverage Licenses
  • Question & Answer Session


To join:

On December 4th, visit for the links to join the meeting.


Please complete the pre-survey if:

  • You need captions in another language
  • You have questions you would like us to answer during the session

Link to Pre-Survey

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.


1011 First Street S, Suite 215
Hopkins, MN 55343-9413

8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.


Past issues

Previous issues of Food digest available in our archive.

Food digest feedback

Hannah Marschinke


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