Since I’ve joined the Fargo Moorhead West Fargo metro, it has quickly become apparent to me that this region is beyond resilient and tirelessly rallies together in support of our own community and businesses. From battling floods to navigating the COVID-19 crisis, we stand strong.
While the pandemic has been challenging for all businesses across our metro, we recognize that some industries have been hit harder than others. As I reflect on the strength of our business community, it is disheartening to see the overarching regulations implemented by state officials that make the struggle even more difficult. I remain disappointed in Governor Walz’s executive orders, which unfairly target the restaurant and bar industry.
In a letter sent to Gov. Walz from Hospitality Minnesota on December 15, 2020, data was cited showing less than 1% of cases are tied to restaurant/bar outbreaks. Although the governor’s recent actions to ease regulations are a step in the right direction, our concern remains for many of our businesses within the hospitality industry. Forcing bars and restaurants to operate in such a limited capacity makes it extremely difficult for them to survive as they now see an increase in their operating expenses, but have to do so with extremely limited revenue.
We strongly believe in multi-pronged, science-led health approaches, and that our communities should take all of the necessary health precautions to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. However, as a border city that operates as a bi-state metro, our area Minnesota hospitality industry businesses are undeniably being adversely affected. As businesses on the west side of the Red River are allowed to operate in a slightly limited capacity, our businesses and employees east of the Red River bear the burden of economic harm from the continued businesses restrictions, while receiving none of the intended health benefits. Instead of this one-size-fits-all approach, we support more localized decision-making and further empowerment of our county and city leaders.
We urge Walz to consider the adverse effects his restrictions are having on border cities such as Moorhead. And as we head into 2021, we as a community must rally together, much like we have before, to continue to support our most heavily impacted businesses. For those that can, we encourage you to dine in, order takeout, get delivery or purchase gift cards from our local restaurants to show your support. Because right now, it is only through strong community-led support that our most heavily impacted businesses will be able to open their doors fully once again.
Shannon Full is president and CEO of the Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber of Commerce.
This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Forum's editorial board nor Forum ownership.