Covid-19

COVID-19 vaccine mandates in Minnesota: What to know

As the omicron variant of COVID-19 continues to surge in Minnesota, vaccine mandates in Minneapolis and St. Paul begins next Wednesday, Jan. 19. But what does that mean? Here’s a breakdown of what you need to know about the vaccine mandate and its impacts:

What does the vaccine mandate mean?

Beginning Jan. 19, you will need to provide a proof of vaccination or negative test taken within 72 hours if you visit a place that serves food and/or drinks in Minneapolis and St. Paul.

“Vaccinated” is defined as the entire vaccination course, meaning both doses of Pfizer and Moderna or one dose of Johnson and Johnson completed.

When does it start? And how long will it last?

The announcement was made on Jan. 13, but the mandate won’t go into effect until Wednesday, Jan. 19. 

St. Paul’s mandate is set to expire after 40 days, unless the mayor extends it.

It’s unclear when the mandate will end in Minneapolis, but Mayor Frey said the city will continue to monitor cases and announce updates when needed.

Where does the Twin Cities vaccine mandate apply?

  • Restaurants
  • Bars
  • Cafés
  • Arenas
  • Entertainment venues
  • Catering halls
  • Wedding venues
  • Movie theaters
  • Bowling alleys

What places are not included in the Twin Cities vaccine mandate?

  • Schools
  • Hospitals
  • Churches
  • Soup Kitchens

Who is not included in the Twin Cities vaccine mandate?

  • Athletes
  • Performers
  • St. Paul: Ages 0-5
  • Minneapolis: Ages 0-1

What are the different ways I can show proof of vaccination?

You can present a physical proof of vaccination such as the original card you received when you were vaccinated, a photo of your vaccination card on your phone, or through an app.

The Minnesota Department of Health recommends the free Docket mobile app, which allows you to access your immunization records quickly and easily. This app also allows you to add family members to one account. 

Click here for a step-by-step guide to using Docket.

What if I lost or damaged my vaccination card?

The Minnesota Department of Health says it cannot provide a replacement if you lost your vaccine card. But you can find your immunization record or request a copy of it here.

The state says they are receiving a lot of requests at the moment, so if you need a copy within the next 33 business days, they recommend contacting your health care provider for your records. 

You can also try accessing your records on the Docket app.

What if I’m not vaccinated?

You will need to present a negative COVID-19 test that has been taken within 72 hours (three days).

Home rapid tests will not be accepted. A PCR test will be accepted, if supervised in-person. 

How does this impact my kids?

In Minneapolis, the vaccine requirement does not apply to children under the age of two. Those between the ages of two and five were initially subject to the testing requirements, but the city said that it is planning to reverse that requirement before the mandate begins.

In St. Paul, all children under the age of five are not included in the vaccine mandate.

What’s a difference between Minneapolis and St. Paul’s mandates?

In St. Paul, the mandate takes effect on Jan. 19 for non-ticketed events, but for ticketed events, the mandate starts on Jan. 26. 

How does the U.S. Supreme Court ruling impact these mandates?

The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling that blocks the Biden administration from enforcing vaccine-or-test mandates against employees at large companies will have wide-ranging effects in Minnesota. It partially disrupts plans in Minneapolis and St. Paul for vaccine requirements at hospitality venues.

While customers must be vaccinated or show a negative test to dine at bars or restaurants and attend entertainment venues, employees at those businesses will not be subject to the mandate.

St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter signed an updated order Thursday, Jan. 13, striking his 24-hour-old requirement for hospitality employees while keeping the mandate on customers.

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey had not yet followed. It sets up an imbalance where diners must be vaccinated or tested, but their server won’t be.

MORE: Vaccine mandate has restaurant owners divided

Does the vaccine mandate apply to games and events at the Xcel Energy Center or Target Center?

Yes. Just like the mask mandate, large sports venues like the Xcel Energy Center and Target Center say they will be following its city guidelines. Those attending events at those centers will need to show proof of vaccination or a negative test.

What other businesses are included in the vaccine mandate?

The regulation will apply to small businesses in the Twin Cities that serve food and drinks indoors, like wedding venues, catering halls, movie theaters, and bowling alleys.

What about the mask mandate?

The vaccine mandate was announced only days after both Minneapolis and St. Paul started requiring people to wear masks indoors again.

The renewed mask mandates were reinstated last Thursday, Jan. 6.

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey signed an emergency regulation reinstating the city-wide mask police, which requires patrons, employees and visitors to wear a mask in businesses and places of public accommodation including, but not limited to, retail stores, stadiums, arenas, convention centers and recreational facilities. 

St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter issued an executive order requiring masks to be worn in all licensed businesses and city-controlled facilities. The mandate does not apply to apply businesses in St. Paul, only the roughly 1,800 places licensed by the city. That covers most public-facing businesses in the city, like restaurants, event centers, and theaters.

What happens if establishments don’t comply with the mandate?

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said the enforcement of the regulation will be complaint-based.

“The intent is not go in with a heavy hand, but allow our businesses to stay open,” Frey said. “As far as enforcement goes and how it will function, generally it will be complaint based.”

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