Small business closed file

(The Center Square) – Gov. Tim Walz is expected to announce at 6 p.m.  sweeping new restrictions on restaurants, gyms, and youth sports in reaction to rising COVID-19 case numbers.

According to Fluence Media’s Blois Olson’s Morning Take, the restrictions will activate at midnight Friday and last four weeks. They will include:

Restaurants, breweries, bowling alleys, movie theaters, and bar service will be take-out only.

Gyms will be closed, and organized indoor youth sports will be “paused.”

The state on Tuesday reported 26 additional COVID-19 deaths and 5,945 new infections, with 1,669 COVID-19 patients in the hospital and 346 needing intensive care.

About 12 of those deaths occurred in long-term care facilities, a category that comprises roughly 70% of the 2,961 COVID-19 deaths in the state.

About 94% of those killed with SARS-CoV-2 have been 60 years of age or older.

Just like the initial lockdown, these restrictions aim to prevent the hospital system from being overwhelmed. But this time, there’s little state or federal aid available to keep businesses forced closed afloat.

The state is already facing a $4.7 billion budget deficit for fiscal years 2022-23 and a mandate to balance its budget.

Hospitality Minnesota President and CEO Liz Rammer said the restrictions “will push many small restaurants, food service and other hospitality businesses over the cliff.”

“Hospitality Minnesota is calling for immediate financial assistance from the State or these businesses will not be here in four weeks.The vast majority of hospitality businesses have taken every step asked of them by the state throughout the pandemic, resulting in significant financial investments in new equipment and [personal protective equipment] as revenue plummeted," Rammer said in a statement.

"They have done this in order to survive, keep people employed and continue contributing to our economy. We call on state leaders to act immediately to provide significant state financial aid to this devastated industry; we cannot wait for the feds to act in February or beyond.”

Minnesota Licensed Beverage Association Executive Director Tony Chesak called the news “heartbreaking,” noting the imminent rise in unemployment and permanently closed bars and restaurants.

“The hospitality industry has shifted and invested heavily to protect both staff and patrons, and is still barely afloat," Chesak said. "The short timeline we are now given for indoor closure will also result in unused inventory left to perish and leave small businesses further in the red.”

Chesak called for state and federal aid for restaurant owners and staff as the restrictions will stretch over Thanksgiving.

“The state and federal government both need to take steps to aid employees and the hospitality industry with relaxed regulations, direct financial support, unemployment assistance, and loans to get through this dark winter,” Chesak said in a statement. “‘In this together’ can’t be merely a slogan or our state will see devastating economic fallout on the other end of this pandemic."

 “We strongly encourage Minnesotans to support small businesses by purchasing take-out and gift cards whenever possible.”

Staff Reporter

Scott McClallen is a staff writer covering Michigan and Minnesota for The Center Square. A graduate of Hillsdale College, his work has appeared on Forbes.com and FEE.org. Previously, he worked as a financial analyst at Pepsi.