Monday at 5 p.m. Minnesota’s Gov. Tim Walz made the decision to force all Minnesota restaurants and bars to close in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. The option for takeaway or delivery with limited person-to-person contact was left open. Joined by television host Andrew Zimmern, Stephanie Shimp of the Blue Plate Group, and John Puckett of Punch Pizza, the governor explained the difficulty of the decision and shared plans for unemployment support for the hundreds of thousands of workers affected by the blanket decision saying, “This will be the single largest unemployment request in Minnesota history.”
Walz noted that despite a request for social distancing, some restaurants remained open and filled up over this past weekend. In an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus, he said this drastic measure was necessary.
Andrew Zimmern, the James Beard Award-winning television host and Minnesota-based chef, spoke about the industry, saying that even in the face of depleted resources, an inability to pay staff, and rent, “Hospitality folks all want to help.” He then asked for help for those very people who always show up first when a community faces crisis. Speaking to the hospitality industry’s need for government bailouts, rent protection, tax alleviation, and loan assistance during this unprecedented time, he urged for help so that when the pandemic passes, Minnesota restaurants will be able to reopen and continue to serve.
For those suddenly left without work, Minnesota is waiving the usual waiting time to apply for unemployment benefits. The system was immediately overwhelmed with requests, but appears to be functioning again.
Walz finished his announcement by saying that we would need political collaboration to save the industry, and urged people again to stay home and bend the curve so that hospitals are not overwhelmed by sick people.