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RELEASE: Rep. Dave Baker House GOP urges Walz admin to stop harassing local businesses

Monday, August 31, 2020

Rep. Dave Baker House GOP urges Walz admin to stop harassing local businesses

ST. PAUL, MN — Rep. Dave Baker, R-Willmar, House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, 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.

"So many of the restaurants we all love are still struggling to stay afloat, and instead of being a partner in our efforts to keep Minnesotans safe the Walz administration is sending threatening letters," said Rep. Baker, who has decades of experience in the hospitality industry and owned two restaurants until their sale last year. "The restaurant industry has done amazing work under the most challenging circumstances imaginable to revamp their business models, build outdoor seating, and switch their operations. There's no data to suggest that restaurants are major drivers of outbreaks, so there's no reason for them to be treated like this by state agencies."

According to estimates from Hospitality Minnesota, just 2.3% of total state 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.