ST. CLOUD -- St. Cloud area residents anxious for a bit of normalcy in their lives came out to the sidewalks,  streets and parking lots to dine-out for the first time in two-and-a-half months Monday.

It was the first day of the Governor's new rules for bars and restaurants which allow for up to 50 people to eat and drink outside of a business.

Photo by's Jim Maurice

On 5th Avenue in downtown St. Cloud supporters used the occasion to return the decorative festoon lights, which were taken down in the Press Bar fire back in February.

Bernie Perryman of Batteries Plus Bulbs says it's nice to have people gathering again.

We're back to normal, it may be a new norm when you look around but look everybody's having fun and having a good time cheering each other, and the lights are on.

Perryman says the strings of lights actually survived the fire pretty well, but they did have to replace about 85 bulbs. With the Press Bar building gone, they don't go quite as far down the block as they used to anymore.

Photo by's Jim Maurice

7 West Taphouse co-owner Ray Herrington says the outdoor dining is a good start after being restricted to just delivery and curbside pickup for weeks and he's excited to see the customers come back.

I don't think we expected this big of a crowd either.  It's pretty cool that everyone is very relaxed about making adjustments because there are a few rules we have to go by.

Herrington says he brought back just under half of his staff so far with all of them who are working wanting to be there.

Photo by's Jim Maurice

The bars and restaurants on 5th Avenue have been given permission by the city to put tables in the street, while the businesses on St. Germain Street will be utilizing the sidewalks and parking spaces to create more outdoor seating.

The festoon lights were first hung over 5th Avenue in April of last year.

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