(Alexandria, MN)  A large number of bar and restaurant owners in the Alexandria area gathered in a show of solidarity and as a desperate plea for change Tuesday evening.  Last week's announcement by Governor Tim Walz was not what most had hoped for with regard to the re-opening of their establishments.  Citing the need for a gradual return to the industry's level of customers indoors DEED Commissioner Steve Grove said the new ruling by the governor would allow for outdoor seating only with social distancing requirements along with required masks for staff and recommended masks for patrons.  Outdoor seating was capped at 50 people.  With the bar/restaurant industry coming in a wide variety of set-ups and sizes, many gathered during Tuesday's march felt the one-size fits all approach needs to be more specific to the different types of establishments, as well as being more trusting of the owner's ability to provide a safe environment for their indoor guests.

Dozens of people walked the length of 2nd Avenue in Alexandria on their way to Big Ole for the rally.  In front of the crowd was a hearse provided by Lind Family Funeral.  The theme of the march was "the Death of Restaurants."  Kent Kopp helped organize the march.  He says many of the local owners in the local restaurant association gathered in early March to get ahead of the challenges the oncoming pandemic would provide.  He says they welcomed local health inspectors into the meeting to get a handle on precautions that could be made.  Now, 10 weeks after the Governor announced the closure of bars and restaurants, they are beyond restless.  Many are uncertain of their ability to continue operating given the sizable losses of not being open for Easter, Mother's Day, the fishing opener, Memorial Day, and upcoming summer holidays.  

VOA's Joe Korkowski has more on Tuesday's march (VIDEO Story Below)

Specifics of Governor Tim Walz' Emergency Executive Order 20-63 pertaining to bars, restaurants; effective Sunday, May 31, 2020 at 11:59pm

Restaurants, food courts, cafes, coffeehouses, bars, taverns, brewer taprooms, micro distiller cocktail rooms, farm wineries, craft wineries, cideries, golf courses, and other Places of Public Accommodation offering food or beverages (including alcoholic beverages) for on premises consumption, may provide outdoor service in accordance with the following requirements:

A. All establishments must adhere to the requirements set forth in paragraph 7.e of this order, including development and implementation of a COVID-19 Preparedness Plan in accordance with applicable guidance available at DEED’s guidance website (https://mn.gov/deed/guidance).

B. All establishments must ensure that the number of customers at any one time is limited to the number for whom physical distancing of 6 feet can be maintained between tables, not to exceed 50 people.

C. Workers and customers must follow face-covering requirements as set forth in the applicable guidance available at DEED’s guidance website (https://mn.gov/deed/guidance).

D. All establishments must follow applicable state and local laws and regulations. Local governments are encouraged to work collaboratively with establishments to allow for outdoor service.

E. In the event of inclement weather, customers may move indoors to package food and pay bills but must exit quickly.  While indoors, customers must follow social distancing rules and avoid congregating. Nothing in this Executive Order prohibits indoor sheltering in the event of severe weather.

F. The prohibition on indoor activity extends to the sale and play of lawful games as provided under Minnesota Statutes 2019, section 349.12. This does not include outdoor and on-premises sale and play.

G. Pursuant to Minnesota Statutes 2019, section 349.12, subdivision 3a, veterans or fraternal organizations may lend gambling funds to their general fund accounts for up to one year to pay for allowable expenses necessary to reopen such organizations’ permitted premises as set forth in the guidance available at the Gambling Control Board’s website (https://mn.gov/gcb/).

ix. Because indoor dine-in service is still prohibited at restaurants, for the purposes of Minnesota Laws 2020, Chapter 75, nothing in this Executive Order constitutes, prescribes, or should be deemed as, the expiration, termination, or rescission of the closure of restaurants as set forth in Executive Order 20-04, as modified and extended by Executive Orders 20-18 and 20-33, or any subsequent order.