ST PAUL, Minn. — The association that represents Minnesota's small family owned liquor retailers isn't pulling punches with its message to Governor Tim Walz: Bars and restaurants are ready to be open for indoor dining, and as soon as possible.
In a release sent to media outlets Tuesday, the Minnesota Licensed Beverage Association (MLBA) said the state's hospitality industry has met every request from the governor and the Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) since the COVID-19 pandemic landed here. MLBA says its members have offered the state government guidance on safety measures and an opening playbook, and still.... the Walz administration has not set a firm date for resuming indoor dining.
"We have preparedness plans, have significant experience working with strong safety regulations, and will protect our customers, staff, and vendors," said MLBA Executive Director Tony Chesak in a prepared statement. "Big box retailers have been serving hundreds of thousands of people ever since the Emergency Order began. Other non-food-based retailers are open for indoor service – and even the World’s Largest Candy Store in Jordan, Minn. Clearly, the regulations for closing all indoor service at bars and restaurants is not based on science."
The association maintains that patio-only outdoor service is not acceptable, as many businesses do not have those facilities or the time to wait for municipalities to change their codes. Chesak also says that the expense of opening patios for limited seating capacity doesn't make economic sense and is actually a hardship for most bars and restaurants.
"Governor, let bars and restaurants re-open indoor service. We can do this safely," Chesak insists. "Our customers and employees are our lifeblood and we want them safe and healthy as much as you do. The time to do this is now. We are ready and cannot wait much longer."