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Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

More signs are emerging that Minnesotans are going all in on all things winter.

Driving the trend: While residents of the "Bold North" have a long tradition of braving the frigid temps, COVID-19 is pushing us outdoors even more.

  • Many breweries and restaurants have invested in heat lamps, fire pits and tents to keep service flowing amid restrictions on indoor dining.
  • Utepils Brewing, a stone's throw from Theodore Wirth Park, has seen lines of 90 minutes for outdoor seating on the weekends.
  • "We call it the fresh-air, warm-hands, cold-beer lifestyle," brewery president Dan Justesen told us.

A few more indications:

What they're saying: Winter booster Eric Dayton, once dubbed the state's "king of cold," said that pandemic-induced limitations on activity have expanded what we're willing to do outdoors.

  • "We're all getting creative this year looking for ways to take care of ourselves and hopefully find moments of fun, moments of community," said Dayton, a businessman and founder of the Great Northern Festival — now underway.
  • "One of the silver linings [of the pandemic] that I hope does stick is a shift in culture around the outdoors and around winter."

The big picture: Minnesota is no longer the only state leaning into its local climate. More cold-weather cities are following the lead of our Scandinavian counterparts in embracing the idea of "winter placemaking" amid the pandemic, as Axios Cities' Jennifer A. Kingson reported.

What's next: Three of Minnesota's marquee seasonal events — the St. Paul Winter Carnival, City of Lakes Loppet Winter Festival and Great Northern — begin today, delivering another test of our willingness to engage in cold-weather programming.

  • Some restaurants and breweries, meanwhile, are already considering bringing back their outdoor winter setups next year — even if pandemic limits are lifted.
  • "I think people have discovered it's fun to be outside and drink beer," Justesen said. "Especially when they can have a fire."

This story first appeared in the Axios Twin Cities newsletter, designed to help readers get smarter, faster on the most consequential news unfolding in their own backyard.

Go deeper

Jan 29, 2021 - Axios Twin Cities

A sneak peek inside Minnesota's only 5-star hotel

This rendering shows what the lobby of the Four Seasons Hotel in Minneapolis will look like. Photo: Smallwood Architects

Developer United Properties shared this not-yet-publicized rendering of the Four Seasons lobby in downtown Minneapolis with Axios.

The state of play: The 222-room hotel — which will be Minnesota's only five-star property — is part of the 37-story RBC Gateway Tower office-retail-condo project at Nicollet and Washington, the largest current development in the Twin Cities at a cost north of $400 million. It's set to open in 2022.

The mad dash for COVID vaccines among Minnesota seniors

Data: Minnesota Department of Health; Chart: Michelle McGhee/Axios

Minnesota's system for scheduling COVID-19 vaccination appointments for citizens 65 and older again saw extraordinary demand this week.

By the numbers: More than 226,000 seniors entered the lottery for one of just 9,425 doses available at state pilot sites this week, MDH told Axios.

Mike Allen, author of AM
4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Biden adviser Cedric Richmond sees first-term progress on reparations

Illustration: "Axios on HBO"

White House senior adviser Cedric Richmond told "Axios on HBO" that it's "doable" for President Biden to make first-term progress on breaking down barriers for people of color, while Congress studies reparations for slavery.

Why it matters: Biden said on the campaign trail that he supports creation of a commission to study and develop proposals for reparations — direct payments for African-Americans.