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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Restaurant owners are criticizing Gov. Tim Walz for his new “Stay Safe Minnesota” regulations.
His order prohibits indoor dining, but will allow outdoor patio dining beginning June 1.
Critics, like Republican State Representative Dave Baker of Willmar, say Walz isn’t listening to the devastated restaurant industry. Baker himself is a former restaurant owner.
“Blindsided is a good way to put it,” Baker said. “The governor said we were included, and I will tell you we were not included.”
La Grolla in St. Paul has a patio. Owner Mikael Asp says he was expecting some indoor dining to be approved.
“I feel personally for other small business owners who do not have patios,” Asp said. “What happens when it rains at Friday night at 7 o’clock. Are we allowed to offer our customers a place of residence or safety, because considering tornadoes, lightning?”
Hospitality Minnesota said the announcement was “surprising and disappointing especially given the many conversations we’ve been having with the Governor.”
Rep. Baker wants patio dining now and 50%-capacity indoor dining June 1.
“Governor, listen to us. We can help you. We can do a good job, and we can do this safely, understanding that the seriousness of the COVID situation,” Baker said.
Asp says he is confident that he can safely serve food and alcohol.
“I have zero doubt with that,” Asp said.
A survey by Hospitality Minnesota back in April found that half of all Minnesota restaurants say they would go out of business by July 1 if restrictions were not significantly altered. The industry association agrees with those who spoke at Thursday’s news conference that the lifting of some restrictions, including allowing patio dining June 1, is simply not enough.
WCCO asked the governor’s office if he had any comment, and he did not.
Under Walz’s plan, indoor dining will happen in the next phase of openings, but he gave no date for when that next phase will happen.