A unanimous vote in affirmation by the St. Louis County Board will make it easier for Northland bars and restaurants to expand their outdoor serving areas.  As a temporary response to the COVID-19 Pandemic, the board will grant authority to the Liquor License Committee to approve requests for expanded outdoor service - something these businesses need in order to comply with the current regulations in place by Minnesota Governor Tim Walz.

According to information released by the county, this vote - and the temporary licensing authority - will streamline the process for bars and restaurants to serve alcohol in expanded outdoor areas.  The application process usually takes more than 45 days after submission; under the current situation, these affected businesses don't have that amount of time to spare.

Governor Walz's Executive Order 20-56 will allow bars and restaurants to reopen for outdoor service as of Monday, June 1; in order to do that, establishments need to adopt and implement a COVID-19 Preparedness Plan that is consistent with guidelines set forth by the Minnesota Department of Health; they also need to submit a physical layout diagram to the licensing committee.

There are currently 91 on-sale liquor businesses in St. Louis County that would be eligible to apply for the new, expanded outdoor service area that this measure provides for.  Many bar and restaurant owners in the Northland have been critical of Governor Walz's regulation towards outdoor service - suggesting that it's not practical in an area like ours - where the weather isn't accommodating and land parcels aren't set up to allow pop-up-style outdoor business.

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