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RELEASE: Rep. Paul Novotny, House GOP urge Walz admin to stop harassing local businesses

Monday, August 31, 2020

ST. PAUL, MN — Rep. Paul Novotny, R-Elk River, 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.

"The COVID-19 pandemic has caused irreparable damage to the hospitality industry and has led to countless small businesses permanently closing their doors—leaving thousands of Minnesotans unemployed," said Rep. Novotny. "I am troubled by the threatening tone the Walz administration has taken in recent days and urge them to work with businesses that may be having difficulty following the burdensome regulations he has imposed. Simply put, sweeping inspections and heavy-handed punishments for businesses that are doing their best to stay a?oat and comply with state regulations is unacceptable."

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.