The hopes of many restauranteurs were dashed Wednesday when Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz introduced a new round of restrictions that prevent them from doing business.
Despite an easing of state mandates, restaurants will only be allowed to serve outside. They must ensure social distancing and not serve more than 50 customers at once. Sit-down service cannot be offered by restaurants that don't have outdoor space. In Duluth, that rule will prevent the vast majority of restaurants from re-opening.
Minnesota Chamber President Doug Loon expressed frustration about the limits.
“While continued progress to reopen is important, we hoped the governor would take more meaningful steps today," he said in reaction to the new Walz policy. "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," Loon said in a Wednesday news release.
Further, he noted, the regulations do not have an end date.
“This additional delay must have a timetable for the future. Without further action to promptly open, more of our small businesses will be unable to return, serve their customers and support their communities,” Loon said.
The governor also announced salons and barbershops will be allowed to open June 1, but only at 25 percent occupancy. He said the limit is intended to ensure the safety of both the employees and the customers inside.
Walz also advanced a new worship restriction that also forces congregations to meet outside, and restricts attendance to 10.
“This is a measured approach that matches the thoughtfulness and generosity of our restauranteurs, who have found creative ways to safely feed their neighbors throughout this pandemic – but making this work relies on all of us,” said Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan. “Supporting your favorite businesses means following health and safety rules at all times – making an appointment or reservation, maintaining social distance, washing your hands, and wearing a mask. It also means that workers are protected if they report concerns about the health and safety practices of their workplace. That’s how we can keep each other healthy so we can continue safely turning the dial in Minnesota.”