FAQs for Local Businesses

The City has developed Minneapolis-specific guidance for bars and restaurants to reopen for outdoor dining on or after June 1. View the guidance and temporary permit application.Reopening | Minneapolis reopening guidance | Curbside pick up zones | Beer and wine to-go | Food donation | Get help | Accessing City services | Taxes and fees | Your employees | Sick and Safe Time


Letter from Mayor Jacob Frey

Thank you for your continued partnership and work on behalf of our city throughout what has been – and will remain – a trying time. Coronavirus disease 19 (COVID-19) presents an evolving threat, and I know you appreciate the necessary role social distancing measures will play in stemming the spread of the virus.

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Employers who are incapable of retaining their employees and paying the full earned Sick and Safe time benefits can consider reducing the hours of employees and applying for Shared Work benefits offered through the MN Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED). Importantly, the State of Minnesota recently eliminated wait time to apply for unemployment benefits – so if you need the support, apply immediately. 

Employers who are unable to retain their employees and pay earned Sick and Safe time and who are unable to reduce work hours may choose to sever the employer-employee relationship. The employer should encourage the employees who are not retained or who are affected by reduced work hours to apply for Unemployment Insurance benefits from the State of Minnesota at uimn.org

Employees who then return to work within 90 days are entitled to their previously earned safe and sick time accrued balance. 

In all situations, I encourage you to follow the guidance provided at www.uimn.org

Earlier today, we also learned that the State Revenue Department is deferring the collection of Sales Tax payments due on March 20, 2020 with no late fees or penalties. That’s a move I pushed for alongside many of you, and a move I applaud. 

We hope you’ll join us for a conference call on Friday, March 20 at 11:00 a.m. to learn more. Details to follow. 

The City of Minneapolis is … 

  • Waiving all licensing late fees for food, taxi, liquor, wine, beer, or catering licenses
  • Helping establish “Food Pickup Zones” in an existing meter area or signed or unsigned parking area for businesses who are allowed to continue operation for pick up and take out foods that do not currently have their own off-street parking. You can apply for this free permit online and it will be valid through March 30
  • Establishing the COVID-19 Emergency Mental Health Fund
  • Expanding Business Technical Assistance to provide enhanced services, direct support in targeted areas

And as mayor, I’m continuing to push for emergency business relief funding from the State of Minnesota and federal government to address cash strapped companies 

Information is coming out at a dizzying pace, and we will be doing our best to provide updates from the local level. Check the city’s COVID-19 information page where we’ll be providing information as it’s available. 

Please take care of yourselves in the days ahead – we’re all in this together. 

Please reach out to Shauen Pearce, my office’s Director for Economic Inclusion and Policy, if you have questions or need further information. 

Sincerely, 

Mayor Jacob Frey


How can I stay updated?

Bi-Weekly calls with our Business/Employee Community

The Office of Mayor Jacob Frey is hosting weekly calls for our business community on Fridays at noon. We will provide updates about current strategies to support businesses and answer your questions live. You can also submit your questions in advance online.

What types of businesses can be open?

On May 18, the stay at home order was allowed to expire as scheduled. A stay safe order is now in effect. Businesses should refer to the State of Minnesota safely returning to work website for the most comprehensive information about which businesses may be open to customers.

Businesses that can be open

Critical sector (essential) businesses that were never required to close, including:

  • Grocery stores
  • Pharmacies
  • Hardware stores
  • Day care centers (child)
  • Construction
  • Lawncare and landscaping
  • Restaurants offering take out or delivery service only

Effective May 18, all retail stores, malls and other businesses that sell, rent, maintain and repair goods can reopen for in-person sales as long as they:

  • Have adopted and implemented a COVID-19 Preparedness Plan, including physical distancing guidelines for workers and customers
  • Allow no more than 50% of the establishment's occupant capacity inside at any time

Please note: Retail businesses do not need to secure individual approval from the State or City to reopen.

Effective June 1, restaurants and bars can reopen for outdoor service only as long as they:

  • Have adopted and implemented a COVID-19 Preparedness Plan
  • Ensure a minimum of 6 feet of distance between tables
  • Limit on-premises capacity to no more than 50 persons
  • Limit table service to 4 persons, or 6 if part of one family unit
  • Require reservations in advance
  • Require workers to wear masks and strongly encourage masks be worn by customers

Personal care services (such as hair salons, barbershops and tattoo parlors) can reopen to provide services indoor as long as they:

  • Have adopted and implemented a COVID-19 Preparedness Plan
  • Limit number of clients inside the business at any time to ensure 6 feet of distance between persons except when providing services
  • Reduce occupant capacity to no more than 25%
  • See clients by appointment only; do not allow walk-ins
  • Require workers and clients to wear masks at all times; do not provide services that cannot be performed without masks

Businesses that must remain closed until permitted by the State of Minnesota to reopen

  • Entertainment venues
  • Commercial pedal cars
  • Public pools, gymnasiums, fitness centers, recreation centers, indoor sports facilities, indoor exercise facilities, exercise studios
  • Theaters and bowling alleys
  • Adult day care facilities

For more detailed information, view full guidance from the State.

Setting up curbside pick up zones

Public Works is accepting requests from businesses who would like to establish a temporary ‘Curbside Pick Up Zone’. Curbside Pick Up Zones can be established in an existing meter area or signed or unsigned parking area. The duration will be 10 minutes to encourage appropriate turn-over. Eligible applicants include restaurants and retail businesses who are allowed to continue operation for curbside pick up and take-out that do not currently have their own off-street parking.

Businesses should go to https://minneapolis.mn.roway.net/ to create an online account and apply for a permit. The permit will be free of charge and valid through the end of the peacetime state of emergency due to COVID-19. Signs will be available for installation within two days. Installation for permittees will begin immediately thereafter, and Public Works will be assisted by Traffic Control for both installation and enforcement.

Business with questions about their application can contact Andrea Swenson at 612-673-3263 or [email protected].

Donating food

The closure of dine-in food service has some businesses looking for ways to donate food before it spoils.

Guidance for restaurants opening on or after June 1

The State of Minnesota will begin allowing bars and restaurants to open outdoor dining options on or after June 1. The City will be providing restaurants with additional more flexibility for modifying outdoor dining options. See below for Minneapolis-specific guidance:

The City of Minneapolis is hosting a series of webinars next week to address questions about the new guidance.

Please use the links above to register for the session of your choice and submit your questions in advance.
 

Can restaurants sell beer and wine to-go?

On Friday, April 17, 2020, Governor Walz signed a bill temporarily allowing qualifying, licensed restaurants to sell limited alcoholic beverages as part of a takeout food order since they are closed for dine-in service by executive order. A restaurant may offer malt liquor, hard seltzer, beer, cider and wine. Businesses must check ID to verify that the customer is of legal drinking age and that there are no restrictions on the purchase of alcohol on the customer's state-issued identification. For questions about beer and wine to-go in Minneapolis, email [email protected] or call 612-673-2080.

Read more about food and public safety, including best practices for safe distancing during food pickup.

FAQ about beer and wine to-go

Who qualifies to sell beer and wine to-go?

  • Restaurants licensed to sell beer, wine or liquor and where beer and wine sales are secondary to food sales.
  • If the business does not prepare meals on site to sell to the general public, then it is not eligible to sell alcohol to-go.
  • Breweries, brewpubs, taprooms, and other off-sale liquor license holders are not subject to this law.
  • Liquor liability insurance must be updated to reflect that alcohol is sold for off-sale consumption.
  • Restaurant must be certified and in good standing with Alcohol and Gambling Enforcement Division.
What counts as a restaurant?
  • Minnesota Statute 340A.101 defines a restaurant as, “an establishment, other than a hotel, under the control of a single proprietor or manager, where meals are regularly prepared on the premises and served at tables to the general public, and having a minimum seating capacity for guests as prescribed by the appropriate license issuing authority”.

What alcohol can eligible restaurants sell?

  • A bottle of wine up to 750 mL in size in the original, unopened packaging.
  • Individual cans or bottles of malt liquor, beer, cider, and hard seltzers with a maximum combined volume of 72 ounces in the original, unopened packaging.
  • Note: Distilled spirits and mixed drinks are not included.

Are additional licenses required before selling beer and wine to-go?

  • No, no additional licenses or endorsements are required if you are a qualified, licensed restaurant. (See "Who qualifies to sell beer and wine to-go?" above.)

Can restaurants sell the alcohol on delivery orders?

  • No, takeout only. Delivery is not allowed.

When does the to-go sale of alcohol permission expire?

  • Permission to sell alcoholic drinks with takeout orders at restaurants will expire once the emergency orders that closed dine-in businesses (20-04, 20-18, and 20-33) expire or are repealed.

What support is there for business owners in Minneapolis?

Get free technical assistance from one of these Business Technical Assistance Program organizations below. Contact the Minneapolis Small Business Team at 612-673-2499 or [email protected] with any questions.

Financial help

The Small Business Administration

  • The federal SBA Payroll Protection Program (PPP) offers forgivable loans for up to 2.5 months of payroll expenses for business who keep their employees and spend at least 75% of the loan amount on payroll. Businesses can access the PPP through SBA lenders and many other banks. After a brief hiatus, applications for PPP are open again as of April 27.
  • The SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) offer long-term loans up-to-$2 million at 3.75% with favorable terms. This program also includes an up-front $10,000 grant against the loan. The SBA is processing applications that were submitted before mid-April, but no new applications are being accepted, except for agricultural businesses.
  • The SBA Express Bridge Loan program is still open for business owners.

The State of Minnesota

  • The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program that covers those who do not qualify for regular Unemployment Insurance benefits, such as independent contractors and self-employed people. The Minnesota Unemployment Insurance office is developing this program now, and instructions are available to begin your application.
  • For small businesses seeking to secure private loans, the State has also created a Loan Guarantee Program to help businesses secure those loans.
  • The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program that covers those who do not qualify for regular Unemployment Insurance benefits, such as independent contractors and self-employed people. This program is now open through the Minnesota Unemployment Insurance office. Instructions to begin your application here.

Hennepin County

The City of Minneapolis

  • Gap Funding for Small Businesses offered a $5,000-$10,000 Forgivable, No-Interest Loan for small businesses and self-employed workers with fewer than 20 employees or under $1 million in revenue and located in certain parts of the city.
    • The application period for these loans has now passed.
    • We received more applications than funds available. City staff are reviewing applications and will notify applicants as soon as more information is available.
  • Additionally, the City's 2% Loan Program has been made interest free. Working capital is an eligible expense for this program. More information on that program is forthcoming.

Private grants and other relief efforts

Information

Technical assistance for businesses

The City now has expanded Business Technical Assistance to address COVID-19. These services include, but are not limited to:

  • Navigating the process of layoffs and managing other employee issues
  • Assessing finances and triaging outstanding expenses
  • Working with lenders and other creditors to negotiate payments
  • Applying for relief funds if/when available
  • For food establishments:
    • Moving to online ordering/delivery
    • online sale of gift certificates
    • other strategies for temporarily adapting business models

Community business support organizations:

Support is also available through local Small Business Administration (SBA) partners including:

We will share opportunities for virtual trainings and webinars soon. Please note that that our technical assistance providers are adapting to remote work and other changes in normal business operations that may impact response time or methods.

If you have questions about which organization would best meet your needs, contact the Small Business Team at 612-673-2499 or [email protected].

How should I access City services in the coming days and weeks?

The City will continue to provide necessary services to businesses and residents, however, how those services are delivered will look different to maintain recommended social distancing practices. See the City’s main coronavirus page for more detailed information about specific services.

The City is suspending in-person counter service and shifting to electronic or drop-off service for:

Please note: All communication between customers and City staff will shift to phone and email.

For questions about services not listed or with other questions, call 311 for the most up to date information.

Do I still have to pay fees and taxes?

City of Minneapolis waives license renewal late fees, liquor license renewal and quarterly fees

On March 16, Mayor Frey issued a waiver of late fees for renewal of food, taxi, liquor, wine, beer or catering licenses, to avoid penalizing businesses for the changes in the licensing service delivery model. Businesses should still submit the renewal prior to the license expiration date.

On March 20, Mayor Frey ordered a suspension of liquor license renewal and quarterly fees. Businesses should still submit renewal materials within the required renewal period, but do not need to include their payment at this time. Businesses must also maintain their liquor liability to remain in good standing. Payments for liquor licenses will be collected at a later date.

FAQ about license renewal

No late fees

Following the proclamation, no business has been assessed a late fee for application renewals. In instances where payment is received on or after Tuesday, March 17, 2020 with a late fee already included in the payment, City staff will contact the licensee to adjust the payment, in accordance with the late fee waiver proclamation.
Please maintain your license

Every type of business license is an annual license. To maintain a license in good standing, a business must maintain minimum qualifications, insurance (including liquor liability) and pay the established license fee if they wish to maintain their license.

Withdraw your license only if you are permanently closing

Businesses wish to permanently close and do not wish to reopen within the timeframe of their annual license may withdraw and a prorated portion of the license fee(s) paid will be refunded. A business license is not transferable, and if a license is withdrawn, the business would need to apply for a new license, pay new license surcharge and meet any new health, zoning and building code requirements of a new business.

How will I know when to submit my renewal fees?

We just will be suspending sending out any new notices effective Friday, March 20, 2020. Any business that had a renewal due date on or before Tuesday, March 17, 2020 and did not renew will receive a second notice to renew within 30 days of the orders being lifted.

Return payments

Payments for the above listed license types received on or after Friday, March 20, and prior to the expiration of this emergency regulation shall be returned to sender with explanation and the payment not processed.

Hennepin County property tax

Hennepin County has eliminated late penalties for some property tax payers for taxes due on May 15, excluding taxes included in escrow payments or those owing more than $50,000. For more information, see the Hennepin County Property Tax Info site.

State sales tax grace period

The Minnesota Department of Revenue is granting a 30-day Sales and Use Tax grace period for businesses identified in Executive Order 20-04. During this time the department will not assess penalties or interest.

  • Identified businesses with a monthly Sales and Use Tax payment due March 20, 2020, will now have until May 20, 2020, to make that payment.
  • Identified businesses with a monthly or quarterly Sales and Use Tax payment due April 20, 2020, will now have until May 20, 2020, to make that payment.

These businesses should still file their returns by the due dates but do not have to make payments until May 20, 2020. There is no grace period to make the Sales and Use Tax payment for April Sales and Use Tax—the payment and the return will remain due on May 20, 2020.

If you have questions or to request more time, call the Minnesota Department of Revenue at 651-296-6181 or 1-800-657-3777, or email [email protected].

How can I support my employees?

On March 16, 2020, Governor Tim Walz issued an executive order to ensure workers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic have full access to unemployment benefits, whether they are fully laid off or have reduced hours.

Governor Walz’s executive order also ensures that your UI tax rate will not increase if your workers collect unemployment benefits because of COVID-19.

For more information, see the employer and worker information available through DEED.

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Last updated May 26, 2020

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