ST. PAUL, MN — Rep. Jon Koznick, R-Lakeville, 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.
"It is extremely troubling that Governor Walz is threatening small businesses with fines and closures at a time when so many are being forced to lay-off employees and significantly change their business models in hopes of staying afloat," said Rep. Koznick. "If bad actors are knowingly and ?agrantly putting customers and employees at risk, then those businesses should be dealt with on a case-by-case basis. Sweeping inspections and heavy-handed punishments to businesses who are doing their best to stay a?oat and to comply with a confusing and ever-changing set of 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.