FAQs for Local Businesses
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.
Over the last 72 hours, we’ve heard directly from many of you and your staff. I’m writing today to provide you with an update of what we’re doing in the city and where we intend to join your advocacy efforts.
I know that there are many questions for employees and employers impacted by recent action at the state and local levels. Each scenario is different, and we know that many are hurting right now, but we are in this together. That is why I am encouraging all employers within the City of Minneapolis to retain their employees and pay retained employees who have accrued earned Sick and Safe time if the business is financially capable of doing so.
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.
Mayor Jacob Frey
How can I stay updated?
Weekly calls with our Business/Employee Community
The Office of Mayor Jacob Frey is hosting weekly calls for our business community every Friday at 11 a.m. We will provide updates about current strategies to support businesses and answer your questions live.. You can also submit your questions in advance online.
- Register for the April 3 Open Call for our Business/Employer Community.
- After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.
- Plan. Launch. Grow. Supporting Minneapolis Small Businesses.
- Sign up to receive regular updates through the Small Business newsletter.
What types of businesses must be closed?
On March 25, the governor issued an executive order for Minnesotans to stay home from March 27 until April 10, closing all but essential businesses. Some businesses must also remain closed or with takeout and delivery only service until May 1. See list of businesses that must wait until May 1.
If your business has been ordered closed, you may still stop by on a limited basis to ensure that your property is secure, check for mail and deliveries, or similar activities.
What is an essential business
- Read the essential business information and guidance from DEED.
- If you need further clarification, fill out the Request Clarification of Critical Sector Worker Categories form on DEED’s website.
Businesses that may stay open
- Grocery stores
- Hardware stores
- Day care centers (child)
- Other essential businesses
Businesses that may stay open with some limitations
- Restaurants, cafes, and coffeeshops must be closed to dine-in service and operate on a delivery or take-out basis only
- Food trucks may continue to operate as long as they keep sufficient distance (six feet) between waiting customers and between the customers and the food truck employees. Also, the pre-existing spacing requirements between restaurants and food trucks, which you can find in City code: MCO 188.485, still apply.
Businesses that must close
- Entertainment venues
- Gyms, fitness centers
- Theaters, bowling alleys,
- Adult day care facilities
- Hair and Nail Salons, tattoo and piercing, massage, or other bodywork
- Food courts, food halls, and other places of public accommodation if they are unable to provide curbside takeout or delivery service while maintaining adequate distance (six feet) between waiting customers.
- Commercial pedal cars
- All other non-essential businesses
Businesses that must wait until May 1 to reopen fully
- Food except for takeout and delivery.
- Adult day cares.
- Public pools, gymnasiums, fitness centers, recreation centers, indoor sports facilities, indoor exercise facilities, exercise studios.
- Tanning, body art, tattoo and piercing.
- Businesses offering massage therapy or similar body work, spas.
- Salons, nail salons, cosmetology salons, esthetician salons, advanced practice esthetician salons, eyelash salons, and barber shops.
- All salons and shops licensed by the Minnesota Board of Cosmetologist Examiners and the Minnesota Board of Barber Examiners.
- View governor's executive order clarification.
What are the specific restrictions on food businesses and other gathering places?
Food service is limited to delivery, takeout and drive thru beginning at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, March 17 through 5 p.m. on Friday, May 1. This date has been extended per the governor's executive order 20-18.
Businesses must practice social distancing with their staff to mitigate the potential spread of COVID-19.
Businesses offering food or beverages for takeout may have up to five customers in their business at one time to pick up their orders as long as the customers are at least six feet apart from one another while in the business.
- For health-related questions, email [email protected]
- For closure-related information, contact Business Licenses and Consumer Services at [email protected] or 612-673-2080.
- Visit http://www.minneapolismn.gov/FLP for COVID-19 guidance information for food businesses from the Minneapolis Health Department.
- The Minnesota Department of Health has set up a COVID-19 hotline: 651-201-3920. The hotline is open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Setting up food pick up zones
Public Works is accepting requests from businesses who would like to establish a temporary ‘Food Pick Up Zone’. Food 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 businesses who are allowed to continue operation for pick-up and take-out foods 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 March 30 2020, which may be extended depending on need and conditions. Business who have questions about their application can contact Andrea Swenson at 612-673-3263 or [email protected].
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.
The closure of dine-in food service has some businesses looking for ways to donate food before it spoils.
- Find tips on how to keep the food you donate safe in the City's food donation brochure.
- Use the food donation tracking form when you donate food.
- Find organizations that accept food donations here.
- You are protected and may qualify for a tax deduction. Visit the Minneapolis Food Donation web page for more information.
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.
The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) Emergency Loan Program is now available. DEED has established a loan program to assist small businesses affected by Executive Orders 20-04 and 20-08. These loans will:
- Range from $2,500 to $35,000 and will be based on the firm’s economic injury and the financial need.
- Be interest free.
- Be paid back monthly over five (5) years and the first payment will be deferred six (6) months with potentially partial forgiveness.
- Be provided to only Minnesota-based businesses.
- For detailed eligibility requirements, application materials, and terms, visit the DEED website.
In addition, on March 30, DEED announced a new Minnesota Small Business Loan Guarantee. This program is currently enrolling participating lenders, and no loans will be issued directly by DEED. If you are currently seeking a loan, check back with the DEED website for participating lenders, or reach out to your current lender.
Small businesses that have sustained losses from COVID-19 in Minnesota are eligible for disaster loans from the Small Business Administration.
- The disaster loan program provides low-interest loans of up to $2 million to small businesses and private nonprofits. These loans can be spent on payroll, accounts payable and fixed debt payments that you're unable to make due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The current interest rate is 3.75% for small businesses and 2.75% for nonprofits.
- You have the option set up a long-term repayment period of up to 30 years.
- Apply online at: https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/
- For more information visit the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan web page.
Additional Federal Small Business Administration resources are also quickly becoming available, including:
- Express Bridge Loans
- Paycheck Protection Program
- Debt Relief
Private grants and other relief efforts include:
- Facebook Small Business Grants Program
- Springboard for the Arts Personal Emergency Relief Fund (for artists)
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:
- African Development Center
- African Economic Development Solutions
- Bii Gii Wiin
- Davis Law Office
- Lake Street Council
- Latino Economic Development Center
- Metropolitan Consortium of Community Developers
- Neighborhood Development Center
- Northside Economic Opportunity Network
- Seward Redesign
- Social Impact Strategies Group, in partnership with Just Law
- Springboard for the Arts
- West Bank Business Association
- West Broadway Business and Area Coalition
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 drop-off service for:
Please note: All communication between customers and City staff will shift to phone and email.
- Internal inspections of businesses and occupied residential buildings will be limited to essential inspections until April 6.
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 license fees and state sales taxes?
State sales tax payment 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.
- Eligible businesses that have a monthly Sales and Use Tax payment due on March 20, 2020 now have until April 20 to pay. These businesses should still file their return by March 20.
- At this time, this grace period for penalty and interest is only for monthly filers and only for the March 20 payment.
- You can request additional relief from penalty and interest for reasonable cause after April 20.
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].
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.
License Renewal FAQ
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.
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.
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.
Last updated Apr 2, 2020