Governor Walz should let businesses open if he really wants to support them

Since about Mid-November when Governor Walz ordered small businesses to temporarily close for 4 weeks close starting November 21st, a question about relief has been up in the air. In Mid November, Walz sent a letter to Congress urging a relief bill to help businesses stay afloat.

“I would settle for a scaled-down package that targets small employers and workers, specifically around the closures in the hospitality industry, and that’s what I’m asking for,” Walz said.

In his letter, Governor Walz said to Minnesota Legislators,

…. I urge your quick collective action to provide significant, new, and flexible funding for states in an additional COVID relief package, as well as a renewed commitment to maintaining a strong Unemployment Insurance safety net by extending the fiscal supports passed in March and protections for small businesses, so that we can continue to provide needed support to our residents and address budgetary challenges caused by the virus.

Governor Walz has also called for more federal funding to mitigate this crisis he has imposed on Small businesses. Restaurants in Minnesota have also expressed the need for more federal funding in order to survive.

To be fair, there this is a difficult time for small businesses like restaurants. They have been forced, through no fault of their own to cease their operations. Even though there is no evidence of outbreaks being traced back to them, a lot of establishments have been forced to permanently close. Individuals have lost what they have worked for. So it is only fair that legislatures step up.

But the truth of the matter is, restaurants have been more hurt by the uncertainty surrounding these shutdown orders.

Many in the Twin Cities restaurant industry worry, and perhaps expect, that Gov. Walz will ultimately extend the four-week pause well past Dec. 18. For that reason, Kaysen and others are calling for immediate federal relief aid to help struggling business owners and their laid-off employees.

The decision to shut down (over and over again) is one that affects real people, most of whom have low incomes. Take for instance this report by MPR,

Minneapolis chef Joseph Jones, 27, has worked in the service industry his entire adult life. Back in March, when restaurants were first ordered to close, Jones and his coworkers were laid off on short notice.

“It was just like, ‘Hey, you have a job and now you don’t,’” Jones said. “So clearly, it messed with my finances — I had no money.”

These are not people that are being considered when these shutdown orders are made. Businesses like Mann Theatre in Hopkins which closed due to these shutdowns are not additionally helped by the #Takeout program set up by DEED, that Governor Walz is behind. After several weeks of negotiation, relief is nowhere in sight, but DEED is encouraging Minnesotans to take out in support of restaurants.

“We are all in this together, and now is the time to support local restaurants,” said Governor Tim Walz. “Whether you need a break from your daily routine or you’re looking for a way to support your local communities, please consider getting takeout if you are able.”

Many businesses have already expressed worry that they cannot possibly survive on take-out alone, especially in the wintertime. Multiple businesses have permanently closed since the order of this shutdown, and more are likely to follow. If Governor Walz wants Minnesotans to help small businesses, he should let them open.

Minnesotans have been flocking to Wisconsin where businesses are open. This means only the Governor’s orders are standing in the way of Minnesotans from patronizing their businesses. Forcing businesses to close and then calling for aid is ironic. It is the equivalent of breaking legs and promising wheelchairs. And, additionally, there is only so much take out of popcorn Minnesotans can buy to support a movie theatre that has been ordered to shut for months.