New rules are killing business for bars and restaurants and bars

Businesses in the hospitality industry — like bars and restaurants — do require a lot of close personal contact. This is why when social distancing measures were first introduced, these businesses were among the first establishments to cease operations. This has caused a heavy loss in the industry, especially since most of the operations are small establishments.

It is even more disheartening to see that even though these establishments have been given the green light to open, they still have to face so many stringent restrictions that make it almost impossible for them to operate, let alone make a profit. Diners and restaurants, for example, can only do outside seating. And hair and nail salons have to operate at 25 percent capacity.

With such restrictions, it is no surprise that so many are still not yet open and that customers are flocking to neighboring Wisconsin. Worse yet, it does not appear that these rules are providing the extra protection as their proponents claim.

Restaurants are finding it hard to operate with new rules

So far any establishment that cannot physically seat people outside has not been able to open and operate legally. Furthermore,  restaurants have been forced to plan their business around the whims of erratic weather, which is problematic. This new arrangement, in so many ways, does not differ significantly from the previous arrangement of requiring dining places and bars to stay closed.

These businesses are in danger of closing at a time when they believed they would be able to open and resume their operations. They are furthermore in danger of losing clients if they stay closed for much longer due to all these restrictions.

Minnesota businesses are losing revenue to nearby states like Wisconsin

Trying to get around these restrictive laws, a lot of Minnesotans have flocked to Wisconsin to patronize the businesses there.

Generally, people living in Minnesota close to Wisconsin usually have no issues crossing the border to access some services there. But as of late, that number of people crossing the border has gone up since Wisconsin opened its bars and restaurants.

It’s not unusual for Minnesotans to cross the border for dining, especially as the weather improves. Hudson restaurant operator Pete Foster sees a big influx of Minnesotans each summer. But the staff at his local restaurants estimated up to 95 percent of their customers were first-time visitors in the first week of business after reopening.

“I think what we’re seeing is just an increase in those guests coming to us,” Hudson Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Bureau president Mary Claire Olson Potter said, “because of what is happening in Minnesota, as their restrictions aren’t quite as lifted as ours are.”

Are these rules worth the cost?

Given the difficulty that these rules are presenting to business owners, it is worth asking if they are worth the cost. Are these rules saving extra lives?

Some people may argue that capacity restrictions are necessary in order to ensure a less rapid spread of COVID-19.  But given what we know this is not necessarily true. We have already seen and we continue to see that Minnesotan Covid-19 deaths have been focused in the long-term care facilities, among the elderly, and those with pre-existing conditions. These are a specific group of people, they can be isolated and get tested while allowing other parts of the economy more freedom.

It is true the restaurant industry is facing other issues. People are a little reluctant to go eat out or drink at bars, but these rules are not helping in any way. Easing some of these restrictions will go a long way in making things easier for businesses as well as restoring people`s confidence.