Businesses in Walz’s Hometown of Mankato Pan Latest Lockdown

Gov. Tim Walz’s latest COVID-19 lockdown on selective businesses isn’t going over well in his adopted hometown of Mankato. Small business owners denounced the governor’s latest edict before the new round of restrictions on their livelihoods even took effect, according to the Mankato Free Press.

Owners of local bars, restaurants and fitness clubs are resigned, frustrated and fearful about another shutdown of their businesses.

“It’s not like it’s been great since we’ve been allowed to be reopen, but it was better than being closed. After three months of being closed and then opening, you worry that now it’ll be another three months,” said Chad Ziemke of Fitness for $10 in Mankato.

The news also comes at the worst possible time for employees, just before Thanksgiving and the Christmas holidays.

Steve Wegman, owner of Weggy’s On Campus and The 507 in downtown Mankato, said the news was expected after state officials sounded the alarm about the spike in COVID cases threatening to overwhelm hospitals. But the news was still a kick in the gut for business owners who’ve struggled through eight months of closures and reduced-capacity restrictions.

“We have staff we have to let go Friday night and it’s a month before Christmas. There’s no extra $600 for unemployment anymore so now they’re really in a pickle.”

Wegman isn’t buying Walz’s folksy lines about Minnesotans helping each other get through the pandemic somehow. He puts the governor in the same category as politicians in Washington.

“I’ve never been the guy who said, ‘What about me?’ but what about me?” Wegman said.

He said Walz says the hospitality business has gone above and beyond to help slow the spread of COVID and has been hurt the worst by restrictions, and that Minnesotans look out for each other.

“That’s a great cover line, but for the next month I still have to pay property taxes and my Consolidated Communications bill and rent. He’s not coming out with any help for us, and Washington’s just playing games.”

Food and hospitality industry representatives warn that its members and their workers face the bleakest holiday season in years. And there’s no guarantee Walz will lift the supposedly four-week  restrictions and give businesses a fresh start in the new year.

Tony Chesak, executive director of the Minnesota Licensed Beverage Association, issued a statement saying the news was “heartbreaking” for an industry that “is still barely afloat.”

He said the impact will be devastating. “It will most certainly mean significant increased unemployment and further permanent loss of our bars and restaurants across Minnesota.”