Senators say Walz ‘must’ announce plan to end business closures

"There is absolutely no need to repeat that process."

Senators Pratt and Benson

Minnesota Sens. Michelle Benson, R-Ham Lake, and Eric Pratt, R-Prior Lake, sent a letter to Gov. Tim Walz asking him to reopen bars and restaurants.

In their letter, the two senators urge Gov. Walz to reopen bars, restaurants, and other “vital economic engines” by January 11. The letter also asks Walz to let businesses know of his plan by Jan. 4 so they have time to prepare.

Sen. Pratt, who is the chair of the Jobs and Economic Growth Committee, said the timing could be the deciding factor of some businesses staying open or closing permanently.

“Anyone who runs a restaurant knows it’s not just flipping a switch to re-open. The industry needs time to order supplies and schedule employees at least a week in advance,” Sen. Pratt said in a press release. “We wanted to urge the Governor to make his intentions clear by Monday, January 4, so businesses know if they can reopen, as they hope to, on January 11. Waiting too long to announce plans will delay re-opening, and it may cause them to permanently close.”

The letter urges Walz to do the following:

  • Notify hospitality businesses of his plans by Jan. 4.
  • Allow restaurants and bars to resume indoor activities at 50% capacity on Jan. 11.
  • Target enforcement actions to establishments that have experienced verified outbreaks, and close those businesses for up to a week to allow for cleaning.
  • Establish a council of industry representatives to avoid future statewide closures.

Sen. Benson, who is the chair of the Health & Human Services Committee, expanded on the reasoning for the letter.

“Every one of these businesses already suffered from the Governor’s delays to announce he was extending the closures. There is absolutely no need to repeat that process,” Sen. Benson said. “We continue to see improvement on the COVID-19 front. Hospitalizations and percent positive test numbers are down, and hospitals are staffed for ICU beds. Given this optimistic trend, the Governor should safely open restaurants or tell us what goals need to be met to do so.”