ST. PAUL, Minn. – Reaction is coming in to Governor Walz’ latest announcement on COVID rules for the state of Minnesota.
“The Governor needs to allow our businesses to safely reopen their doors, and stop punishing our hospitality industry when the data does not support their continued closure,” says House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt, R-Crown. “Minnesota started a downward trend before restaurants were forced to close, and the governor’s own data shows that only a fraction of a percent of all cases can be tied back to bars and restaurants.”
“We have been begging the Governor for more notice so businesses can plan for these latest changes,” says Rep. Dave Baker, R-Willmar. “Today’s announcement is way too little, far too late — even if a business wanted to start outdoor dining in 20 degree weather, most won’t have time or resources to be ready for customers by the weekend. His continued closure of pools is devastating for hotels and gyms when there are zero known cases linked to pools areas. The governor needs to follow the data and stop scapegoating the hospitality industry and destroying businesses and people’s livelihoods.”
“Today’s news is a small step forward for our gyms, but the governor should have gone further,” says Rep. Barb Haley, R-Red Wing. “Cases tied to gyms and fitness centers cases were almost nonexistent even when they were open at 50 percent capacity. The industry has done amazing work to protect the health and safety of employees and their members, and that effort is not reflected in the disappointing moves today from the Governor.”
Education Minnesota says Walz’ new plan to reopen school buildings to the youngest learners is workable, but only with strict enforcement of safety protocols and a renewed commitment by all Minnesotans to slowing the spread of the virus in their communities.
“For months now, educators have said they wanted to get back into their classrooms with their students, but only when it’s safe for everyone to do so,” says Denis Sprecht, President of Education Minnesota. “If districts meet the new high bar for safety for students and staff, and there are swift, serious consequences for the few employers who might cut corners, this plan could get more buildings open for the littlest learners.”
Liz Rammer, President and CEO of Hospitality Minnesota, issued the following statement:
“With the news coming from the media, we are gravely disappointed by the Governor’s decision to extend the closure of restaurants into the new year. Since March, we have been at the table, in good faith, making the case that hospitality businesses are able to operate safely, balancing public health and economic viability. The state’s very own data supports our case, and they have been unwilling and unable to show us the analysis that says otherwise. As you will see in the attached letter we, again, made an ardent plea to the Governor to allow businesses to open up to 50% when the most recent closure order was set to expire on Friday.”
“Today’s plea to the Governor is to reconsider his decision to extend the closure. The tide is turning, as we have witnessed all week as more and more businesses are willing out of desperation to risk fines and penalties to save their livelihoods. Hospitality is a force for good in our communities, and the Governor and his administration would be wise to leverage that force, rather than watch it flicker out.”
“I’m very hopeful and thankful today. I appreciate the leadership of the Governor and his staff during this challenging time and the collaboration among health care organizations as our amazing frontline workers provide 24/7 care under the most difficult of circumstances," says Dr. Ken Holmen, President and CEO of CentraCare. "I’m also thankful to our communities who are making sacrifices to protect the health and safety of our families, friends and neighbors. We are making progress, but we can’t let up. Hospitalizations from COVID-19 are starting to decrease. Vaccines are now here, but their impact will take several months. So we’re counting on every Minnesotan to keep doing your part – wear a mask, keep your distance and wash your hands. If we all do this over the next few weeks, it will save lives and be the best measure of our holiday spirit.”
Republican Party of Minnesota Chairwoman Jennifer Carnahan released the following statement:
"Governor Walz continues to make unilateral decisions controlling all aspects of Minnesota's businesses, families and well-being in response to moving through the pandemic."
"To loosen restrictions by allowing bars and restaurants to resume outdoor service in the middle of winter when temperatures are often below freezing is not a solution to restart our economy or provide revenues these businesses need to maintain their viability, especially after the year they've already been through."
"During times of crisis a great leader is one that listens to the people he represents, leads with careful and thoughtful input from many diverse voices and understands Minnesotans are smart enough to make the right decisions for their families. A great leader doesn't kill an economy, cancel holidays, dictate our children's ability to learn and then bailout businesses with their own hard-earned taxpayer dollars; due to decisions he made which put them in an untenable position in the first place."
Representative Peggy Bennett (R-Albert Lea) posted the following on Facebook about Governor Walz' announcement:
"Today Governor Walz announced a new executive order that continues and modifies the closures he first announced on November 18th. Once again, the Legislature was not consulted or involved in these decisions. Therefore, YOUR voice was left out. That saddens me greatly. Minnesota is stronger together, and we make better decisions together - not by unilateral decree. I will share my thoughts on this new executive order in a future post."
Senator Carla Nelson (R-Rochester) issued the following statement in response to Gov. Walz’s announcement that school districts can begin reopening for elementary-aged students on January 18:
“The governor’s decision to finally allow local school boards to decide if elementary-aged students can resume in-person learning is long overdue, but I am glad he has finally accepted that it can be done safely. That is great news."
“That said, I still have serious concerns. His approach has not been rooted in science or data; the evidence is substantial that schools can reopen without posing any significant health risk. In fact, every day that students remain in distance learning causes more and more damage. Grades are plummeting. Development is in freefall. UNICEF has warned of a ‘lost generation’ of students. Students should be back in classrooms right now. Parents are so distraught I have even had some ask if they have standing to file a lawsuit against the governor. They are desperate."
“Local school boards know how to educate their students safely; they should be the ones making these decisions about all grade levels. Blanket approaches rarely work in education. This is no different. I am glad the governor is allowing districts to move toward in-person learning again for young learners, but we can -- and must -- do better.”