With changes announced last week by Minnesota Governor Tim Walz regarding COVID-19 closures, many business owners across the Red River Valley are preparing for a long-awaited reopening of their businesses. Effective Sunday at 11:59 p.m., according to Executive Order 22-01, "Restaurants, food courts, cafes, coffeehouses, bars, taverns, breweries, microbreweries, distilleries, brewer taprooms, micro distiller cocktail rooms, tasting rooms, wineries, cideries, clubhouses, dining clubs, tobacco product shops, hookah bars, cigar bars, vaping lounges, and other Places of Public Accommodation offering food, beverages (including alcoholic beverages), or tobacco products for on-premises consumption, may provide indoor and outdoor service if they adhere to the applicable guidance."
For bars and restaurants, like Justin Larocque's The Spud Jr. in East Grand Forks, Minn., this means that his restaurant will be able to be open to 50 percent of the normal occupant capacity, with a maximum of 150 people, provided that physical distancing of at least six feet is maintained between parties at different tables between the hours of 4 a.m. and 10 p.m.
"This is exactly what I assumed he (Governor Walz) was going to do," he said. "You like that you're able to expand on your business, but at the same time, it's frustrating that we're continuing to be dictated to in this sense, and it's only a select number of industries that is the case."
Larocque says the changes are a start, but not where, as a business owner, he wants to be.
"The great thing about our industry is that you have to balance things in it," he says. "We get to go into it knowing how many jobs we have open, but it's still a continuance of hurting the economy in the state of Minnesota."
Laroqcue says that, at the end of the day, there will continue to be a large number of people who don't have jobs due to the continued restrictions.