Anyone longing to belly up to a bar, dine at a sit-down restaurant or nosh at a food court can still do so in secure areas of the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport — despite an order shuttering public spaces in Minnesota to stem the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

An executive order signed by Gov. Tim Walz Monday temporarily shut down dine-in restaurants, bars and other gathering areas throughout Minnesota until March 27 — but not within secure areas of the state's airports, including MSP.

One of the main reasons for the exemption is because roughly 37 % of those traveling through MSP Airport are connecting to other flights, according to Patrick Hogan, spokesman for the Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC).

"Connecting passengers may have no other option" to grab a bite while waiting for their next flight, he said. "We want to try to make sure there's a place to eat on every concourse."

Still, some airport concessionaires are finding it challenging to maintain staffing levels during a pandemic, and may pare their hours as a result, Hogan added.

The airports commission on Monday adopted a measure that gives MAC staff the ability to grant full or partial waivers of rent and other fees through June 30 paid by bar, restaurants and shops in the wake of unprecedented airline cancellations related to the virus outbreak.

Two coffee shops outside airport security, the Starbucks at Terminal 1 (Lindbergh) and the Caribou Coffee in Terminal 2 (Humphrey), will continue takeout service, but sitting at cafe tables is forbidden.

Janet Moore • 612-673-7752 @ByJanetMoore