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COVID Dial Back Has Minnesotans Flocking To Wisconsin Bars And Restaurants

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- On a moonlit Monday night along the bustling main drag of Hudson, Wisconsin, hungry customers shuffled into bars and restaurants -- many of whom call Minnesota home.

Joe and Jill Bonfe of Woodbury wanted to celebrate his birthday.

"We come over here quite a bit on weekends," Joe Bonfe said. "We probably would have found a place in Woodbury, but being that everything's closed up and just takeout right now, it's kind of hard, you know, to plan on going out."

Staff at several area restaurants said the rush of visitors who live west of the St. Croix River was immediate after the new restrictions started over the weekend in Minnesota. Bars and restaurants are closed to dine-in service until Dec. 18.

Nathan Meilrosse is the assistant taproom manager at Hop and Barrel Brewing Company in Hudson.

"Saturday was one the busiest Saturdays we've had in months, and it was probably 75% - 80% from Minnesota," Meilrosse said.

It somewhat reminds him of early May, when Wisconsin opened up as Minnesota stayed locked down. He adds a big change this time around is the amount of masks being worn in accordance with the state mandate.

"I feel like people are more aware of what really is going on," he said.

His brewery requires masks when people order. Staff also wear them at all times. He just hopes visitors from Minnesota continue to put safety first when crossing state lines, especially as he anticipates large crowds the night before Thanksgiving and the weekend afterwards.

"It's the least that I think people can do, you know, honestly just taking a small precaution to try and protect us," he said.

Crossing the border for a meal or to socialize is not breaking any rules, but it is frowned upon by Minnesota health leaders. A spokesperson with the Minnesota Department of Health said doing so is a risky behavior that continues the spread of the virus, and only makes the new restrictions less effective.

"I feel like if they feel comfortable to go out they should go out and not be staying home," Jill Bonfe said. "The ones that aren't comfortable can stay home."

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