On Thursday, the Minnesota Senate successfully passed bipartisan legislation to allow businesses to be open with no state-imposed limitation so long as the business owner maintains their own COVID safety preparedness plan. This will allow Minnesota businesses to open their doors at their own pace while providing all the safety possible for employees and customers.
“For almost a year, Minnesota businesses have been shut down or restricted through no fault of their own under this administration’s one size fits all policies,” Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R- Gull Lake) said. “During that span, they have been trying to be partners with the state, advocating their case for how they can safely reopen while still protecting consumers and employees. Unfortunately, for too long, those pleas have gone unanswered. With the worst of the pandemic behind us, Minnesota needs to solve how we’re going to move forward, which means trusting Minnesotans and businesses who share the same goal of safely opening up and recovering our economy.”
SF 1 allows businesses to be open with their own precautions in place. Instead of limitations set for the entire state by the Governor, this bill will give the power back to the people to decide what measures they need in their business. It would prohibit a Governor from closing businesses by Executive Order under Chapter 12.21 or 12.31 unless there is a majority vote of the legislature. It would also require a notice of 14 days after a vote before taking effect, giving businesses ample time to prepare for the shutdown.
Minnesota’s economy has suffered dramatically since the beginning of the pandemic and resulting lockdowns. The Minneapolis Federal Reserve reports that Employment is down 8% from the previous year and that Labor force participation down from pre-pandemic levels. Unemployment also remains above pre-pandemic levels at 4.4% in December 20 vs. 3.3% in December 19.
The pandemic has been particularly severe for small businesses and Minnesota’s hospitality industry. The National Federation of Independent Businesses reported that 1 in 5 small business owners was at risk of closing due to economic conditions. Additionally, nearly 100 restaurants closed in the Twin Cities metro in 2020. More than half of restaurants report they face insolvency in the next few months if things don’t improve.