by Dennis Dalman
Spring has sprung, summer is just around the bend, and many people who are finally able to go to local businesses are mighty happy about de-isolating in the nice weather.
Those are the many people tired of being cooped-up or otherwise isolated due to the ongoing virus pandemic, which started a deadly infection swath across the United States, starting last March.
At long last, the Teders family in Sartell enjoyed lunch in public for the first time after many weeks of stay-at-home dining because of the virus pandemic. On Sunday, June 7, the Teders had lunch right outside of Anejos Fine Mexican Cuisine restaurant in Sartell.
“It’s fabulous to be here,” said Meghann Teders. “It’s much needed after being home so much.”
Her husband, Trent, and their sons Keelan and Kyler smiled and nodded their agreement.
Like many other restaurants/bars in Sartell, Anejos was allowed to open for outdoor dining June 1 according to the terms of a Phase II directive from Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz. And then, on June 10, Anejos and other establishments were allowed to open for indoor dining, with some limitations and safety restrictions.
“We’ve been busy,” said Jackie Navarro, an employee whose family owns Anejos. “And the customers seem to like it a lot.”
Not too far from Anejos, also in Pinecone Marketplace, is House of Pizza, which also opened for outdoor service June 1.
“Customers are so happy,” said waiter Diri Lozano. “I’m so excited. We were super-busy this weekend. Customers have been wanting to do this for so long. They’re happy to be able to sit down at an outside table and enjoy a pizza.”
River Boat Depot at Riverside Drive in Sartell built a patio a couple of years ago overlooking the river. That amenity came in nice and handy when the business was allowed to open for outdoor service.
“We opened June 2,” said waiter Lois Cronenberg. “I’ve been an employee here for 17 years, and I’m very happy we are open again. We’ve been having steady but not overwhelming business. The customers are so happy to sit outside together at their tables.”
G-Allen’s Restaurant & Sports Bar on Evergreen Drive is also open, and a waiter there said people are “pretty happy just to be outdoors for a change.”
The Sartell City Council, like other area city councils, recently approved an interim ordinance allowing outdoor tables to be placed on fenced-in areas of sidewalks and onto parking lots. The businesses obtained permits from the cities after submitting their safety plans for re-opening.
Like other establishments under the state-mandated safety guidelines, G-Allen’s abides by the rules that went into effect June 1: tables must be 6 feet apart, no more than four people per table unless they are all family members, staff are required to wear face masks, reservations must be made and no more than 50 people can be seated at one time.
As of June 10, businesses continued to re-open with the mandated safety measures as spelled out in the governor’s Phase III re-opening plans.
Those businesses include – again – bars and restaurants that may now offer indoor dining but only at 50 percent capacity of their maximum allowable seating as allowed under a particular establishment’s fire-safety capacity. Outdoor seating can also be extended to a maximum of 250 people.
Other businesses that received a green light on June 10 are churches, hair salons, nail salons, barber shops, swimming pools, some sporting, movie theaters, bowling alleys, gymnasiums, outdoor gatherings and some indoor gatherings.
Safety restrictions apply to all of them. Churches, for example, can accommodate up to 50 percent of the former number of worshippers.
Outdoor gatherings allow for up to 25 people at once, and indoor gatherings (such as parties) are advised to host only 10 people or fewer at a time.
Salons (hair, nails and more) can increase their customer numbers from 25 percent to 50 percent as of June 10.
Sports that don’t involve body contact, such as tennis or shuffleboard, are now allowed, but the body-contact sports are still not allowed to host games.
Gym areas are allowed at 25 percent customer capacity.
Bowling alleys and movie theaters can also have up to a 25-percent customer capacity.
Outdoor concerts can be held for up to 250 people with social distancing of six feet.
In all of those activities and gatherings, social distancing must be adhered to, and the wearing of masks is strongly recommended by the governor’s re-opening safety plan.