TWIN CITIES, MN — Gov. Tim Walz Tuesday morning announced his plan to provide economic to businesses and workers amid the coronavirus pandemic. While at The Nook restaurant in St. Paul, the governor promised to work with legislators on a statewide relief package.
"Our small businesses and the Minnesotans whose livelihoods depend on them are bearing a huge weight for the good of their entire community. As cases skyrocket and hospital capacity is pushed to the brink, our small businesses should not have to bear the financial consequences alone. We’re in this together," said Walz in a news release.
"I am committed to turning over every stone to find funding that will help make sure our businesses stay afloat, our workers are supported, and our families can put food on the table."
On Friday, Walz's administration began enforcing the "four-week pause" on social activities, in-person dining, sports, and gym usage as a way to combat the latest spike in COVID-19 cases and deaths.
Mike Runyon, co-owner of The Nook, said Tuesday that "in the restaurant industry, we are all too familiar with 90-hour work weeks."
"We know what it's like to wake up and head into work feeling like you just went to bed two minutes ago. And we're not out here saving lives! We understand the urgent need to support our health care workers and protect hospital capacity right now. But as we know, the hospitality industry is drowning. There's no stimulus money or extra unemployment for our staff. We are in desperate need for our governments to step in and help during these restrictions."
Walz's COVID-19 relief package includes the following measures:
"Keep Small Businesses Afloat"
Provide direct aid to businesses through Business Assistance Program
Waive State and regulatory fees for bars, restaurants, event centers, craft breweries, and more
Establish eviction moratorium so small businesses can stay in their locations
"Support Workers Struggling to Get By"
Extend unemployment benefits for an additional 13 weeks, helping as many as 100,000 workers whose benefits currently end next month
Provide a $500 one-time emergency payment to struggling families
"Help Minnesota Families Put Food on the Table"
Establish one-time grant to restaurants to provide food for healthcare workers, homeless shelters, and long-term care facilities
Provide a tax credit for businesses that donate food that would otherwise spoil or be thrown away
Last week, the governor wrote a letter urging U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer to provide immediate assistance for businesses and workers struggling during the pandemic.