Lawsuits and critics amass from all angles against Minnesota Governor Tim Walz who recently announced a new set of indefinite restrictions on businesses.
Walz declared Wednesday that Minnesota will enter “phase two” of its coronavirus response, come June. This means that bars and resturants are allowed to reopen with masked waitstaff and a maximum of 50 socially distanced customers while churches are allowed only 10 worshipers. Theaters and similar venues will not be allowed to reopen at all. The governor has not announced any end date to this “phase” of the response.
This limited reopening has drawn heavy scepticism from business owners, legal advocates and lawmakers who say that Walz’s “phase two” is unhelpful at best and illegal at worst.
As dozens of resturants close their doors forever, the former owner of the now-closed Vivo Kitchen in Apple Valley warns that “the reality is that the business margins of a 400-seat capacity restaurant are not maintainable currently or under limited capacity seating.”
The owner of Jax Cafe in Minneapolis says that even if he were allowed to operate at 50% capacity, his restaurant would likely lose more money than it does not being open at all.
The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce and the industry advocacy group Hospitality Minnesota have also both warned that Walz’s new rules won’t help business owners who are already undergoing a “financial catastrophe.”
NEWS: Two of Minnesota’s largest business groups, Hospitality Minnesota and the @MN_Chamber, criticize Gov. Tim Walz’s decision.
Hospitality MN says it’s a “disastrous setback” for restaurants.
MN Chamber: “We hoped the governor would take more meaningful steps today.” pic.twitter.com/3DhakVHii8
— Theo Keith (@TheoKeith) May 20, 2020
Over half of the state’s hospitality based business are expected to close permanently, per Hospitality Minnesota.
The Upper Midwest Law Center (UMLC) shares a similarly negative opinion of Walz’s new mandates, especially those that apply to churches. Their effort to sue for a temporary restraining order against Walz’s restrictions just saw measurable progress, Thursday, as their case was assigned a May 26 hearing date.
“Our church clients do not want to insulate themselves from public health requirements,” the Center said in a press release. “They simply wish to incorporate the same health requirements that the Governor applies to a restaurant or a candy story to their religious gatherings. Our temporary restraining order motion asks the judge to enforce governmental neutrality under the First Amendment.”
Erick Kaardal, a long time liberty-minded Minnesota lawyer who’s no stranger to going against the government has filed his own suit as well.
Former US Congressman from Minnesota turned senatorial canidate Jason Lewis also filed a similar suit recently and recently characterized “radical liberals like Senator Tina Smith and Governor Tim Walz” as “a very clear and present danger” to constitutional liberties.
Another group of Republican lawmakers from Minnesota, the New House Republican Caucus (NRHC) has also voiced their extreme displeasure with the governor’s new rules.
“Governor Walz, you are not leading. You are attempting to control something that you cannot control except with threats of penalties, such as Attorney General Ellison seems to be doing all over the state,” the NRHC said via a Wednesday press release. The Caucus is likely referencing the fact that business owner or manager who violates Walz’s new rules will face up to a year of imprisonment or a $3,000 fine, per the Star Tribune. The average Minnesotan faces a $1,000 fine and up to 90 days in jail.
Ellison recently demonstrated his willingness to zealously enforce Walz’s mandates by suing both a small 6-location restaurant chain that attempted to reopen and the chain’s owner personally.
The owner of those resturants, Kris Schiffler may now face a $25,000 penalty for threatening to reopen his business. Meanwhile, Ellison’s Republican challenger has offered to provide free legal support to Schiffler.
2018 GOP nominee for Minnesota AG @doug_wardlow says he’ll do pro bono legal work for the Stearns County tavern owner who was ordered to remain closed after court action by @AGEllison pic.twitter.com/D9JYMySivC
— Brian Bakst (@Stowydad) May 21, 2020