A group of small business owners described the devastating economic impact of Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz’s stay-at-home order in a recently released video.
“Due to the slowdown in beer production, we’ve had to lay off a lot of employees and furlough people,” said Dan Schwartz, CEO of Lift Bridge Brewing Company. He said the closure of bars and restaurants has put more than half of Lift Bridge’s clients temporarily out of business.
The video was released by state Sen. Karin Housley (R-St. Mary’s Point), a former U.S. Senate candidate who represents the Stillwater area in the Minnesota Senate.
“We are seeing the devastating effects this shutdown order has had on so many of our hometown small businesses – the same businesses we depend on to power our local economies. Many of them have applied for federal assistance but have yet to receive any funds,” Housley said in a statement provided to The Minnesota Sun.
“And as they so often do, businesses were already adapting to the ‘new normal,’ making plans for how they could safely operate during this pandemic before they were ordered to shut down. If we do not begin the process of opening our state back up for business, there is a real chance some of them may never open their doors again,” she continued.
In the video, Tom Leonard, co-owner of Fury Motors, said the company has furloughed more than half of its employees.
“What we have going forward right now is unsustainable and I don’t know how much longer we can last,” he added.
Susan Kress, a hair stylist at Zaczkowski’s Blue Belle Salon in Oak Park Heights, said she and her colleagues work on commission so if they don’t have any clients then they “are not getting any income.”
Minnesota has seen 536,742 unemployment claims since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. For comparison, the state had about 450,000 applications for unemployment in 2009, according to Commissioner Steve Grove.
Gov. Walz issued a new executive order that will allow some “non-critical” businesses to return to work April 27, a week before his stay-at-home order expires. The order, however, applies to businesses that aren’t customer facing, so retail environments are required to remain closed until at least May 4.
“We should be proud of our successful efforts to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus. But if we don’t begin to take proactive steps to begin to reopen our economy right now, it might be too late,” Housley added. “We can do it slowly and we can do it safely, but it’s time to start reopening Minnesota’s economy.”
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