ST. PAUL, MN — MPR News reported at 4:00AM this morning that Gov. Tim Walz is expected to ease restrictions on indoor gatherings including wedding venues, raising the capacity limit from 10 to 50. As of this morning, the announcement had not been formally released to the media, and lawmakers have received no communication about the latest dial turn. In just eight hours, the state's executive council is set to meet and adopt the new executive orders that have not yet been released publicly.
Rep. John Poston, R-Lake Shore, a longtime member of the hospitality and events industry, issued the following statement about the latest news:
“While it’s good to see the restrictions eased, the governor should be going further — it doesn’t make sense to keep a 50 person cap on wedding venues when restaurants are allowed to be operating at 50 percent capacity. I know these businesses will keep doing great work keeping guests and staff safe, and I hope there's further dial-backs in the works as case rates fall and vaccination rates increase.
"Today's news once again highlights the total disconnect between the legislature and the governor. Legislators have been pushing for weeks on this issue sending emails and letters to the Walz administration, pushing votes on the House floor, and raising the issue in the media. And we hear nothing. We get no feedback, no dialogue, no benchmarks. We're blindsided by news reports in the media instead of hearing directly from the Governor or his agencies.
"The governor's total lack of engagement and communication leaves lawmakers with no answers when our constituents call distraught and desperate for information about the executive orders. These venue owners and the businesses who serve them have had their livelihoods devastated over the past year, and they feel ignored and disrespected by the administration's refusal to communicate and make decisions transparently with clear timelines so they can start rebuilding their businesses."
Rep. Lisa Demuth, R-Cold Spring, who led a letter signed by more than two dozen lawmakers back in January on the topic of event capacity limits, issued the following statement:
“The 50-person limit regardless of a wedding venue’s capacity is arbitrary and harmful, especially when we have restaurants open at 50 percent capacity. This will continue to hurt the wedding venues, event centers, and the many caterers, photographers, and other businesses they work with. It’s frustrating to once again hear these announcements through the media — I sent a letter along with more than two dozen of my colleagues all the way back on January 14th and have not even received a courtesy reply or phone call from anyone in the Walz administration. They simply refuse to work or even communicate with us, and it makes it impossible for us to provide any sort of answers to our constituents.”