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Rochester Chamber of Commerce vows to help restaurants amid Walz order

Mr. Pizza South
The impact of the Kiwanis Hockey Festival is felt throughout Rochester, especially at restaurants like Mr. Pizza South.

ROCHESTER, Minn. (FOX47)-- The Rochester Chamber of Commerce expressed disappointment this week about Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz's restaurant reopening guidelines.

Gov. Walz announced Wednesday restaurants could open June 1 but with outdoor dining only, with a maximum capacity of 50 patrons, reservations required and social distancing between patrons. The order says there needs to be a maximum table seating of four with the exception of families, which can have six patrons.

Some are saying this protocol isn't enough to keep businesses afloat and puts restaurants that don't have a patio at a disadvantage.

Rochester Chamber of Commerce President Kathleen Harrington said the chamber needs to do their part to help these businesses. Harrington said in a letter to restaurants and bars that the chamber is advocating strongly for modification of the decision. She said they are also working with Rochester Downtown Alliance, DMC and the City of Rochester to develop a simple method for restaurants to create outdoor dining options.

Bars, restaurants, bakeries, grocery stores and convenience stores that provide food and beverages for outside on-site consumption must develop and implement a COVID-19 Business Preparedness Plan.

Harrington said starting Friday, the chamber will be starting a petition demanding Gov. Walz adjust the rules.

"We will make sure the governor hears from the grassroots. We're trying to make sure the voice of the grassroots is heard and understood," Harrington said. "That's a powerful voice. We say to each individual restaurateur to sign that petition, and make your voice be heard."

The Chamber will be hosting a webinar next week on ensuring safety in the restaurant and bar setting and compliance with the Preparedness Plan. Businesses should expect an email from the chamber soon with more details on how to participate in it.

Megan Zemple

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