MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Most Minnesota businesses are closed for the night and some won’t reopen for at least a month.

At midnight, youth sports and parties, like wedding receptions, are officially paused for four weeks. Gatherings are limited to members of one household. Indoor entertainment and gyms are closed, and so are dining rooms, meaning restaurants can only offer takeout.

In Prior Lake, the lights turned on for last call at the Pointe Grill and Bar at 10 p.m., and all afternoon, it was tough finding a parking space. The community turned out for one last show of support before this four-week dial back.

Ryan Bartlett owns the bar and restaurant. He says the business has gotten by OK at half capacity the last several months, but to go curbside-only again for four weeks means every employee’s job is at risk starting Saturday.

“We’re going to try to stay open as long as we can, keep as many people on as we can, but there may be layoffs,” he said. “This is a true blow.”

Given what Gov. Tim Walz did with the spring’s stay-at-home orders, Bartlett isn’t even confident four weeks is where it’ll end. Now he’s facing thousands of dollars in inventory losses and sales tax bills coming due.

“If we’re going to take the brunt of this, maybe a little support,” Bartlett said.

Hospitality is already managing a difficult year. The CEO of Minnesota’s restaurant association, Liz Rammer, says 80,000 workers in the industry are on unemployment.

“This latest announcement in the shutdown is putting a lot of these businesses literally over the cliff. They’re looking to cut staff again at a very difficult time of year,” Rammer said.

Rammer says her organization conducted a survey recently — half the restaurants said they’d be out of business by January without extra financial support. Until then though, all Bartlett can do is be thankful for his loyal customers.

“We need to go out and make it a date night because we won’t get to do this,” customer Melissa O’Neil said.

Part of the reasoning for including places like this in the dial back order is health department data that shows more than 4,000 cases coming from outbreaks at bars and restaurants since June. Research shows that COVID spreads quickly in places where people gather for longer periods of time.

David Schuman

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