Monday night, the Minnesota House approved a new economic assistance package to help small businesses and workers struggling as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The legislation includes direct financial assistance to the hardest hit businesses and helps protect economic security for workers by extending unemployment benefits.
The bill includes a 13-week extension of unemployment insurance and direct financial support for businesses. The Department of Revenue estimates that 5,800 small businesses will receive $82-88 million beginning before the end of the year. Another $114.5 million will be distributed to counties to provide grants to impacted businesses, and movie theaters and convention centers will receive $14 million. In this bill, Hennepin County would receive just over $25.2 million for small business grants.
The bill waives or delays a series of fees for the hospitality industry, including 2 a.m. liquor licenses for bars, caterers that serve alcohol, wastewater permitting fees for small breweries, and certain late payment penalties for food-related businesses. Finally, the legislation extends the deadline for families to apply for free and reduced-price lunch.
This has been a very difficult nine months for Minnesota's workers and small businesses as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic fallout. I am pleased we came together to pass a compromise measure to help our neighbors weather the storm. The extension of unemployment for those who have lost jobs through no fault of their own should provide some stability during these uncertain times. Additionally, I worked with many of my colleagues to provide help to our breweries, taprooms, and distilleries in addition to our many restaurants, bars, and other small businesses.
More information on what’s in the bill can be found here, and the specifics on eligible businesses, program requirements, and payment amounts here.
You can read my news statement here.
Rules for Restaurants, Bars, Gyms, and Other Venues Updated
On Wednesday, Governor Walz provided an update for bars, restaurants, gyms, and other venues which will start on December 19:
- Bars, restaurants, and breweries: Will remain closed for indoor dining, but they may open for outdoor service at 50 percent capacity or up to 100 people.
- Gyms and fitness studios: May open for individual exercise at 25 percent capacity, or 100 people maximum.
- Youth and adult sports: Practices can resume January 4.
- Outdoor entertainment venues: Open at 25 percent capacity, up to 100 people maximum.
- Social Gatherings: Minnesotans may gather inside with one other household up to 10 people. If outside, social gatherings may include up to two additional households (three total) with a maximum of 15 people. Masking and social distancing is strongly encouraged.
You can find information on these updates and more at StaySafe.MN.