Minnesota business leaders have said they were blindsided by Gov. Tim Walz’s announcement that bars and restaurants will be allowed to resume only outdoor dining on June 1.
Under new guidelines announced Wednesday, bars and restaurants can reopen for outdoor dining on June 1 and must limit seating to no more than 50 people. Salons, barbershops, and other personal care services can reopen June 1, but must limit capacity to 25 percent of the building’s maximum occupancy. Like bars and restaurants, appointments are required and no walk-ins are allowed.
“The news today was surprising and disappointing, especially given the many conversations we’ve been having with the governor and the Hospitality Roundtable convened by DEED Commissioner Grove. While it’s good for those restaurants that are able to offer outdoor seating, it will leave many behind around our state who cannot host patrons in an outdoor patio setting. Many of our operators have begun to hire back their staff to use their PPP loan money and ordering products for reopening on June 1, so this is another disastrous setback for them,” Hospitality Minnesota President Liz Rammer said in a statement released Wednesday.
She said many businesses are facing “financial collapse” and called on state lawmakers to pass a targeted relief package for the hospitality industry.
“Today’s announcement further delays the incoming revenue these small businesses need to survive,” she added. “It’s also disappointing to hear that there has been no accommodation made for opening recreational RV camping at private campgrounds in time for Memorial Weekend – one of the biggest revenue opportunities of our campgrounds’ short 100-day season.”
In an interview with KSTP, Rammer said the hospitality industry is on the “verge of collapse” and revealed that outdoor dining only was “never part of our conversation” with the governor.
“While continued progress to reopen is important, we hoped the governor would take more meaningful steps today,” Minnesota Chamber of Commerce President Doug Loon said in a press release.
“We understand the focus on safety, and so do businesses that have protection plans in place and are ready to open. The approach announced today doesn’t sufficiently recognize the ability of businesses – many of them small businesses – to innovate and protect employees and customers,” he continued. “Without further action to promptly open, more of our small businesses will be unable to return, serve their customers and support their communities.”
The American Legion of Minnesota sent a letter to the governor Friday objecting to his plan for reopening.
“On behalf of more than 66,000 American Legion veterans serving in 550 Minnesota communities, we stand with the professionals in the restaurant, bar, and hospitality industries and dispute the restrictions placed on opening our Posts,” said the letter. “Governor, we are disappointed in your decision. Your fellow veterans urge you to reconsider and modify the established June 1 opening criteria.”
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