ST. PAUL, MN — Rep. Tama Theis, R-St. Cloud, 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.
“I have heard from constituents who are very concerned about the direction state agencies are taking on this issue,” said Theis. “After they have put a huge amount of time and money into changing their business model and procedures to respond to state mandates, they now fear that huge fines and other enforcement actions could put them out of business for good. State agencies should not be cracking down on innocent mistakes, they should be helping our local restaurants navigate this new normal they have had to adjust to in the last few months.”
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.