Restrictions on bars, restaurants and other small businesses are set to expire Friday, but Gov. Tim Walz has twice delayed an announcement on what will come next.
The announcement was initially expected to take place last Friday, Dec. 11, but was moved to Monday. His office then moved the announcement from Monday to Wednesday.
Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said it “really takes a full four weeks to see the full effect” of the restrictions, the Star Tribune reported.
During Monday’s special session, state Rep. Anne Neu, R-North Branch, criticized the governor for how he has “handled these restrictions and how he has treated our businesses.”
“From the ridiculously short notice given to our bars and restaurants, to the complete lack of evidence to support shutting down establishments like gyms and theaters. We’ve seen it in just the past few days,” she said.
“We were supposed to get an announcement from the governor on Friday about whether or not he would continue this shutdown next week. Well he didn’t do it Friday so then he decided he’d do it today. Nope, couldn’t do it today. Now he’s waiting until Wednesday. On Wednesday, we will find out if businesses are supposed to stay closed or open up two days later. 48 hours, that’s what he’s going to give them. 48 hours,” she continued.
Neu said Walz has provided the Legislature with “absolutely no role” in the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“None. We have no say in what’s happening. He isn’t listening to us, he isn’t talking to us, he isn’t working with us. He isn’t giving us insight into what he thinks is coming on Wednesday,” she said.
The Legislature passed a $242 million relief package for small businesses during Monday’s session, more than three weeks after Walz shut down bars and restaurants.
“You know, there is no reason this bill had to take this long, but that’s what happens when you have a governor who doesn’t feel like he has to deal with the Legislature. The governor knew more than a month ago that new restrictions were coming. He didn’t tell any of us, of course, but he knew. His administration could have been reaching out to the legislators to get a relief package ready to go. He knew. He could’ve been working on that,” said Neu.
“The governor is going to have to work with us whether he likes it or not.”