What coronavirus? Unmasked crowd flocked to Dinkytown bar

The sidewalk outside the Kollege Klub was reportedly packed with patrons on Saturday night, leaving spectators concerned about the spread of disease.

The sidewalk outside the Kollege Klub was reportedly packed with patrons on Saturday night, leaving spectators concerned about the spread of disease. @Sean_mnyc, Twitter

It feels like a lifetime ago that Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz declared a peacetime emergency and shut down the state’s bars and restaurants.

Now the doors are creaking cautiously open again… albeit with some social distancing requirements.

That includes the fine establishments of Dinkytown in Minneapolis. On Tuesday of last week, the Kollege Klub's Facebook page made a big announcement. The bar was reopening on Thursday at 7 p.m., for a “long overdue” patio season.

“Please remember to practice good hygiene and distancing when possible,” the post read. “See you all Thursday!”

When the KKids hear we're reopening this week‼️ We're back THIS Thursday at 7pm and open at noon on Fri & Saturday for...

Posted by The Kollege Klub Dinkytown on Tuesday, June 9, 2020

One concerned Facebook commenter saw the video of happy college students thronging the, uh, Klub included in the post. The poster tagged major news outlets, sarcastically calling it “social distancing at its finest.”

“That video was from November, Eric,” the Kollege Klub page administrator responded.

We don’t know how Thursday went, but photos from Saturday night have been circulating on Twitter. In terms of personal space, they don't look all that different from that video, with a long line of unmasked patrons gathered outside the Kollege Klub, some shoulder-to-shoulder.

“Unreal,” one Twitter user wrote. In the midst of a “global pandemic” that has killed over a hundred thousand people in the U.S. already, the sidewalk outside the Kollege Klub was apparently packed.

Kollege Klub didn’t respond to interview requests. The Madison-based sports bar took over the site -- formerly known as The Library, then The Pourhouse -- last year. 

We can't say what the bar imposed inside for mask usage or social distancing protocols. Based on the Minnesota Department of Health’s Stay Safe Plan, we know it was supposed to have… some.

As of June 10, restaurants and bars were permitted to reopen for indoor service as long as they implemented a “COVID-19 preparedness plan” and could ensure a minimum of six feet of distance between tables. Outdoor spaces were not supposed to exceed 250 people. Customers would be “strongly encouraged” to wear masks when not eating or drinking.

Minnesota alone has seen over 1,300 deaths due to coronavirus. Hospitalizations have fallen to just over 350 people, which, as MPR points out, is about 40 percent lower than the numbers we were seeing at the end of May. But health officials like the Department of Health’s Infectious Disease Director, Kris Ehresmann, warn that “we’re not out of the woods yet.”

They encourage the public to keep wearing masks when they go out and keep social distancing.

UPDATE: Well folks, it's now June 26, and who could possibly have predicted this?

More than 100 cases of COVID-19 have been reported among Minnesotans in their 20s in the Mankato area who said they went to bars on June 12 and 13 — the first weekend bars and restaurants were allowed to serve indoors. Two Mankato bars — Rounders and The 507 — were the focal points of that young adult outbreak, Ehresmann said Friday. Officials were also following up on a cluster of 30 cases at two Minneapolis bars — Cowboy Jack’s and Kollege Klub, near the University of Minnesota campus, she added.