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Release: O'Neill, House GOP urge Walz admin to stop harassing local businesses

Monday, August 31, 2020

News Release 

O'Neill, House GOP urge Walz admin to stop harassing local businesses

ST. PAUL, MN — Rep. Marion O’Neill, R-Maple Lake, and more than 50 other Republican lawmakers sent a letter to Gov. Tim Walz Monday in response to a letter sent last week by the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and Department of Labor and Industry (DLI) informing hospitality industry leaders of stepped-up compliance checks that could result in fines, forced closure loss of liquor license, workplace investigations, and more. Previously Gov. Walz has stated that enforcement of state mandates and regulations were to be "educational" in nature rather than punitive.

“Fines and threats of enforcement action are the last thing our local restaurants need in their struggle to stay afloat during the current economic and public health crisis,” said O’Neill. “The state should be a partner with businesses, helping them navigate this unprecedented situation safely, rather than punishing infrequent mistakes and fining businesses that often operate on slim margins in the best of circumstances. Our local restaurants have worked incredibly hard to respond to the current situation, and with no data indicating that restaurants have been the drivers of major outbreaks, there is no basis for this kind of response from the state.”

According to estimates from Hospitality Minnesota, just 2.3% of total state COVID-19 positive cases have been traced back to restaurants and bars, and there have been just over two dozen restaurants specifically identified as sources of outbreaks.

The letter urges Gov. Walz to "reassess the tone and approach your agencies are taking" with restaurants and bars, and urges state agencies to be partners rather than adversaries in efforts to combat COVID-19. A copy of the letter can be found here.


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