Picture of the Twin Cities skyline with MSP written across it.
Jan 13, 2022

Axios Twin Cities

☕ Rise and shine. It's almost Friday!

Situational awareness: All Minneapolis Public Schools will shift to virtual learning Friday through Jan. 27. In-person learning will resume Monday, Jan. 31.

Today's newsletter is 936 words, a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: Dining out? Don't forget your vax card

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

New vaccine-or-test requirements for indoor dining and drinking in Minneapolis and St. Paul take effect Wednesday.

The big picture: A growing number of major cities, including Boston, Chicago and New York, have instituted similar requirements in an effort to protect public health.

Yes, but: Questions about enforcement, logistics and effectiveness of the temporary measures remain.

What to know: Patrons at most indoor venues that serve food or drink bars and restaurants and even arenas, bowling alleys and events — must show proof of vaccination or a negative result from a COVID test taken within 72 hours.

  • Ticketed events have until Jan. 26 to enforce the requirement.

The catch: At-home rapid tests will not be accepted, so if you're unvaccinated, you'll have to get an appointment — and results — for an antigen or PCR sample from a medical professional in time for your plans.

  • In Minneapolis, children between ages 2 and 5 who aren't eligible for a vaccine need a test. They're exempt in St. Paul.

What they're saying: Both mayors said the move is meant to curb the spread of COVID and help businesses weather the Omicron wave.

  • "This is a critical next step to avoid closures," Mayor Jacob Frey said at a news conference. "We want to stay open, and we need to stay safer."

The other side: Minnesota Licensed Beverage Association executive director Tony Chesak criticized the mandates as "unjustified and unscientific."

  • "It targets just one specific industry after zero science or data driving the decision, and zero caring about our dedicated frontline workers who will now add 'enforcement agent' to their plates," he said.

Between the lines: Given the prevalence of breakthrough cases and the reality that exposures could still occur within the testing window, some diners who meet the criteria could still be infectious.

City leaders said they saw high compliance rates for past COVID restrictions. Businesses could face fines for not checking.

When asked about effectiveness in slowing spread, local public health officials emphasized the importance of vaccines in preventing serious cases and further stressing health systems.

Read the full policies for Minneapolis and St. Paul.

📬Reply to this email if you have questions about the new requirements. We will provide answers in a future newsletter.

2. Bonus: Restaurants respond

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Twin Cities restauranteurs shared mixed feelings about the new rules Wednesday.

A small number had already issued their own vaccine requirements.

  • "I am ecstatic that the mayors finally take the burdens off the businesses," Wes Burdine, owner of Black Hart of St. Paul, tweeted.

But others have shared concerns about putting the enforcement burden on staff, especially amid workforce shortages.

The bottom line: These measures are "polarizing" in the restaurant community, as Jester Concepts chief manager Brent Frederick put it.

  • "We don't want to do anything to deter customers coming in. ... But at the same time, this has been rolled out in other cities across the U.S., and it's been successful," Frederick, whose group owns Borough, Parlour, P.S. Steak and Monello, told Axios.
New jobs to check out

🚪 Open the door to a new career with our Job Board.

  1. Marketing Communications Manager at Ameriprise Financial.
  2. Systems Engineer Specialist, SASE at Palo Alto Networks.
  3. Senior Quality Assurance Engineer at Clifton Larson Allen.

Want more opportunities? Check out our Job Board.

Hiring? Post a job.

3. Photo du jour: Slow down (around the parks)

A public works employee replaces a parkway speed limit sign on Kenwood Parkway. Photo courtesy of Minneapolis Park Board

Minneapolis Public Works is updating signs across the city to reflect a change in statute that lowers the speed limit on Park Board parkways to 20 mph from 25 mph.

4. The Spoon: News briefs you need this morning

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

🚗 A group aligned with Democrats has filed a Federal Election Commission complaint over the "unusually high" mileage reimbursements GOP congressional candidate Tyler Kistner received from his campaign for the suburban 2nd Congressional District.

  • A Kistner spokesperson told Axios the campaign has a policy for logging miles and follows campaign finance rules. He looks forward to the dismissal of what he called a "frivolous" complaint. (Full complaint)

😷 Two suburbs — Hopkins and Golden Valley — have joined Minneapolis and St. Paul in adopting mask mandates. (Axios)

👶 The state lifted a requirement that licensed child care providers quarantine staff and students who are exposed to COVID-19. It still recommends isolation when possible. (Star Tribune)

🥖 Laune Bread, a new shop selling bread, pastries and more, is opening on Lake Street Friday. (Facebook)

👋 State Rep. Paul Marquart, a longtime DFL legislator and tax committee chair, won't run for re-election this year. The seat will likely be a pick-up opportunity for Republicans. (Axios)

5. Quoted: Where the workers are going

Photo: Roy Rochlin/Getty Images

"As wages are going up in many sectors of the economy. I think you're seeing people say, 'Hey, I'm gonna choose to do something different. Not because I didn't like my last job, [but] that's a tough job and [I can] have a higher quality of life and make more money in this other job.'"
Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis president Neel Kashkari on high rates of workers shifting jobs or industries, during a St. Paul Area Chamber virtual event Wednesday.

Go deeper: Workers still have all the power

6. ❄️ 1 winter activity to go: Art shanties return

Photo courtesy of Art Shanty Projects

After a four-year hiatus, the Art Shanty Projects return to frozen Lake Harriet Saturday.

What's happening: This year's 18 unique shanties include a spot for visitors to throw ice sculptures, a booth to play with giant bird puppets and a free store offering winter gear for those in need.

Of note: Visitors won't be allowed to enter the shanties this year due to COVID concerns.

  • If the weather gets too warm, the shanties will be moved to land.

Visit: Every Saturday and Sunday, from 10am-4pm, through Feb. 6. Enter at the northwest corner of Lake Harriet.

  • Free, but donations of $10-$20 are encouraged.

Enjoy your Thursday!