State Rep. Chris Swedzinski, R-Ghent, is among more than 50 Republican lawmakers urging Gov. Tim Walz and state agencies to improve their relations with businesses amid efforts to combat COVID-19.  

Swedzinski and fellow House Republicans filed the request through a letter to Walz on Monday. It is in response to a letter the Minnesota Department of Health and Department of Labor and Industry issued last week informing hospitality industry leaders of stepped-up state compliance checks that could result in fines, forced closure loss of liquor license, workplace investigations, and more. 

“The adversarial relationship this administration is causing with our state’s hospitality industry needs to change,” Swedzinski said. “This is especially true in regions such as ours, where many customers are simply choosing to cross the border. We already have been hearing stories about inspectors harassing diners at their table about not doing enough to follow the governor’s personal orders. Now, the state’s sending punitive threats to our bars and restaurants is even more concerning. Minnesota’s government agencies should be operating as a partner of businesses to help them through this difficult time and regain stability instead of making threats. The intent of our letter is to deliver that message to the governor. I hope it opens his eyes because our businesses are suffering the consequences of the bad relationship the governor and his administration have created. Our workers deserve better.” 

According to estimates from Hospitality Minnesota, just 2.3% of total state cases have been traced back to restaurants and bars, and there have been just over two dozen restaurants specifically identified as sources of outbreaks. 

Walz previously has stated that enforcement of state mandates and regulations were to be education in nature rather than punitive. The letter Swedzinski and his colleagues penned urges Walz to “reassess the tone and approach your agencies are taking” with restaurants and bars, and urges state agencies to be partners rather than adversaries in efforts to combat COVID-19.