Do Restaurants in Minnesota Need Masks to Reopen Business? What Else Do They Need?

Do Restaurants in Minnesota Need Masks to Reopen Business? What Else Do They Need?

Everyone is trying to open up their restaurants after months of reduced service. Although there are many companies that have been able to serve take out and delivery to keep themselves afloat, how can they reopen up dining indoors and outdoors again for the transition towards how they used to be able to serve food?

Restaurants have always needed to take extra precaution while handling the public’s food, but are masks and sanitizers now a must for reopening?

Yes, there is no way any restaurant can open safely during these months without having masks and hand sanitizers in stock. The best way to ensure that your restaurant is not breaking any legal guidelines is to look at what the city of St. Paul is requiring its own restaurants to do.

What the City of St. Paul says that restaurants need before opening

  • Develop and implement a COVID-19 Preparedness Plan
  • Open for outdoor dining or curbside pickup/delivery only
  • Ensure at least 6 feet of distance with maximum on-premises capacity to no more than 50 persons
  • Limit table service to 4 persons, or 6 if part of one family unit
  • Require reservations; do not allow walk-in customers
  • Establish regular disinfection routines and train workers
  • Require masks or face shields to be worn by workers and strongly recommend masks for all customers

If you would like to read more on what the City of St. Paul is requiring of restaurants and bars before they open and what they need to continue to do to stay open, you can read it for yourself here:

https://www.stpaul.gov/departments/emergency-management/coronavirus-covid-19

Do we know how long these regulations are going to last for?

Unfortunately, we do not know how long it will be that we must keep up all of these precautionary measures for. Even with the number of COVID-19 cases going down during some weeks, there are still many measures we have to keep up to protect ourselves and the public. Restaurants are doing that they can in regards to opening up dine-in through outdoor seating and taking whatever other measures necessary to ensure that they are following government mandated guidelines.

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Twin Cities Mask Regulations for all Citizens- The Difference Between St. Paul and Minneapolis

Twin Cities Mask Regulations for all Citizens- The Difference Between St. Paul and Minneapolis

Depending on where you live, there may be different ways that the local government is enforcing the notion of wearing masks in public places. Even if you live in the Twin Cities area, there is still a difference in how it is enforced and encouraged between Minneapolis, St. Paul, and the Twin Cities suburbs surrounding it. 

Minneapolis has shown to be the most strict on its order regarding face masks worn in public

Mayor Jacob Frey signed an official order beginning on May 26th that any individual who is over the age of two or and individuals who have medical reasons for not being able to do so, must wear a mask or face covering of some kind while indoors or in other types of areas meant for public accommodation. 

 

For those who do not wear a mask when in a public indoor space in Minneapolis, they can be charged with a misdemeanor and be fined to up to $1000 dollars. Jacob Frey has stated that this isn’t intended to penalize forgetfulness or lack of awareness, but it’s meant to enforce those individuals who are selfishly and blatantly disregarding the public health of the city of Minneapolis. 

 

If you would like to read the Minneapolis order yourself, you can access it here: 

https://www.startribune.com/read-the-minneapolis-order-requiring-face-masks-indoors/570667711/?refresh=true

St. Paul has issued a similar order on how individuals should wear masks

Mayor Melvin Carter signed an Emergency Executive Order regarding the wearing of masks in public places effective June 1st. When indoors, if unable to maintain the proper social distancing measures of 6 feet, individuals are required to wear masks. If you are a business licensed by St. Paul, you must require your employees to wear a mask if they are unable to properly social distance. If you are any other business, it is only strongly encouraged that you require your employees whenever dealing with the public. 

 

In parallel to the Minneapolis Order, all individuals are required to wear masks in public spaces, with the exception of children under two as well as those who have a medical reason for being unable to wear a mask. 

 

St. Paul does not have a set consequence for those who are in violation of this order. If an individual is found inside of a city owned building without a mask, they will be asked to leave. Only if they refuse to leave will they be considered a trespasser and potentially will have additional legal actions taken against them. 

 

If you would like to read the St. Paul order yourself, You can access it here: 

https://content.govdelivery.com/attachments/STPAUL/2020/05/27/file_attachments/1460773/Executive%20Order%202020-09.pdf

The Twin Cities Suburbs have much looser mask requirements

Many of the suburbs surrounding the Twin Cities area have not released much local city enforced mask usage. Other than strongly suggesting that individuals wear masks when out of the house, the only places individuals are required to wear masks are when they intend to attend city council meetings and other city owned properties. It is still heavily encouraged that you do wear a mask when leaving your home, many of the Twin Cities Suburbs just have not issued any additional orders. 

When do the Minneapolis and St. Paul Executive Orders end? 

The official St. Paul Order ends 40 days after the order was issued, or the end of the local emergency, whichever comes first. The Minneapolis order does not have an official end date, and should be treated as definitely permanent until notified otherwise. Even after the orders end, it’s expected that there will be a cultural shift towards wearing masks to continue keeping the public health of your community in mind. 

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Not All Masks Are Equal: Melt-Blown Masks vs. Cloth Masks

With the COVID-19 pandemic still ever present and prominent in the United States, people need to learn the best way to protect themselves as stores and events start to slowly open up throughout the country. 

Americans are itching to get outside, but that can prove to still be extremely detrimental to themselves and their families if they aren’t careful about the way they protect themselves. 

We’ve all heard it already: 

  • Wash your hands thoroughly and often!
  • Stay at least 6 feet away from other people when in public- the farther away, the better!
  • Wear a mask when you go outside to protect yourself as well as the others around you! 

Since I know all of those things, what’s the problem? 

Even if you’re correctly doing the first two points in that list, the problem is that people glaze over that last point. Most Americans are unaware of the type of masks that are actually effective against protecting oneself from the virus. When you go out to the store, you’ve likely seen a majority of individuals wearing bandanas, pulling their t-shirts above their nose to cover themselves, as well as a plethora of cloth masks that were sewn at home. You might have heard that anything is better than nothing and put on a variety of cloth masks and clothing pieces yourself when you’ve gone out. But it is a dangerous assumption that cloth masks are able to protect yourself when you’re out in public.   

What does the MN Department of Health say about cloth masks?

The Minnesota Department of Health has said that wearing hand-sewn cloth masks “May reduce the likelihood of transmitting the virus by the wearer, but they are not proven to protect health care staff or patients.” They have also said that these masks are not to be used by people who are sick! These masks are not FDA-regulated and do not protect the individual wearing the mask. 

What are the limitations of cloth masks?

These cloth masks are regarded as “alternative masks” and have many limitations. 

  • They are not regulated by the FDA or the CDC and do not protect the wearer from COVID-19
  • Breathing into cloth masks builds up moisture, thus making it harder to wear as time goes on
  • These masks need to be washed and sanitized very regularly
  • You must avoid touching the mask while wearing it
  • These should be used as a last resort option if do not have access to any better options

If you can’t wear cloth masks, what type of masks should you be wearing? 

The National Center for Biotechnology Information conducted a study on the Microbial Filtration Efficiency of Surgical Face Masks and concluded that “the result was obtained that the disposable mask made of glass fiber mat combined with non-woven fabric proved to be the highest in performance with a B.F.E. of 98.1-99.4%. It is useful both in preventing hospital infection and in general clinical practice. The B.F.E. of the conventional cotton cloth masks is not only lower but variable over a wide range of 43.1-93.6%.” 

Melt-blown masks are high quality masks that are meant to protect both the general public as well as the wearer. 

It’s true that cloth masks provide some level of protection for other people around you, but if you’re looking to protect yourself from contracting the virus as well, it is necessary that you not only abide by all of the other tips that the CDC has relayed, but also that you know what the right type of mask to wear is. 

What are Melt-blown masks? 

Melt blown masks are the same filter material used in N95 and KN95 medical masks.  This is the layer that actually filters small particles.  Coronaviruses, and all other viruses, are very small, and cloth or fabric masks offer little filtration.

Conclusion

If your job requires you to come back now that stores and businesses are slowly beginning to open up again, or you’re the president of an organization that needs to ensure the safety of your employees, or even if you’re just an individual that needs to get out to get groceries, melt-blown masks are the best type of mask to ensure that not only the others around you, but that you yourself are safe. Cloth masks are the least effective type of mask when it comes to protecting the spread of the virus, so if able, wear melt-blown masks to ensure the safety of yourself, your family, and the people around you.

Minneapolis and St. Paul Minnesota Mask Policy For Massage Shops, Hair Salons, and Barbershops

Businesses that provide physical services are likely to be among the hardest hit from the COVID-19 pandemic. Restaurants can still sell their food through delivery or pick up, many office jobs can ask their employees to do their work at home, and universities around the country can conduct remote classes. 

 

But businesses that cut your hair, give you a massage, do your nails, and provide other services of the like, were unable to conduct any business at all while the stay-at-home order was in place. 

Service businesses have been allowed to reopen, but what precautions do they have to take? 

Now with the stay-at-home order in Minnesota being lifted in mid-May and the governor allowing businesses to reopen, one of the requirements for businesses in St. Paul as well as Minneapolis is that citizens going into any business must wear a face mask, which started to be in effect June 1st.  

 

On top of wearing masks as a baseline protection, many of these service businesses are having people schedule their appointments online, wait outside of the store instead of in a waiting room, and are removing things like magazines and other items that are intended to be touched by multiple customers. 

Some Massage Shops, Hair Salons, and Barbershops are taking even further measures to ensure the safety of their customers. 

We know that masks help prevent the spread of COVID-19, but they commonly get hot and uncomfortable to work in, especially if they are cloth masks. But because all individuals are required to wear masks inside of businesses, many shops have chosen to open up with a much more limited amount of open hours, some have temporarily decreased their maximum occupancy, and some others have set up plastic or other types of walls to do their jobs safer than ever before. 

Will Face Masks Still be Used After the COVID-19 Pandemic? 

Will Face Masks Still be Used After the COVID-19 Pandemic? 

An opinion piece that discusses whether or not the western world is moving towards the cultural shift of accepting masks into our daily wardrobes. Will we continue to wear masks farther in the future even after the COVID-19 virus becomes controllable? 

The Use of Masks in the Eastern Asian Countries

In many Asian countries, masks have been a common part of culture and are worn by many individuals who show any type of symptom, far before the COVID-19 pandemic. If an individual had a cough, itchy throat, were commonly sneezing, or even just knowingly sick from only the common cold, it is the norm to wear a mask in public spaces if they had to go out. Countries like China, Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Taiwan, Singapore, and many more, have been wearing masks during flu seasons and all during the year since long before this COVID-19 virus outbreak. 

The Western Stigma Towards Masks is Changing

In the past, the wearing of masks carried a variety of stigmas. Some would consider those who were wearing masks or face coverings in public those who wanted to keep a type of anonymity while in public, which insinuated to those who are over cautious and wary that they may be wearing it to do something not morally acceptable. People also believe that whether it be the government or businesses, that asking individuals to put on masks while out in public becomes an infringement on their personal freedoms. It has never been normal or common in the past to wear masks, so many Americans were averse to the idea. 

Months Into The Pandemic, Our Culture is Shifting Towards Mask Usage

Although many Americans using masks are those who have sewn the masks themselves from cloth which is not the safest type of mask to wear, more and more people are subscribing to the idea that masks will help slow the spread of COVID-19. Many retailers are now offering a wide variety of masks, the majority of them being cloth masks. Even non-clothing retailers like mattress companies and companies that make travel gear are all beginning to sell their own line of face masks. 

 

With many states and cities across the country attempting to safely reopen up the country and the economy again, there is a general understanding from many Americans that masks are a necessary part of their everyday life now. Whether going out for groceries, errands, or even a safe place to eat outdoors, the culture of wearing masks in America is becoming much more common, even for those places that the government is not legally enforcing the use of masks. 

Conclusion

It is so commonplace in Eastern Asian countries to wear masks on any given day of the year, because of their culture norms of coughing and sneezing in public to be impolite. Their common usage of masks is helping them decrease the spread of COVID-19, although because of many of these countries’ population densities, they certainly locked down many other regulations that also aided in their fight against the virus. 

 

Many Americans may not prefer the use of masks when outdoors and in public, but the education provided by the CDC and other government resources are getting through to much of the public masses, making the use of masks in public to aid the public health fight against COVID-19 much easier. I am sure that even when we have made it through the pandemic that the use of masks in public by many individuals will still continue on and that this is a new shift in culture that we will observe as time passes after the battle with COVID-19.