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Minnesota event halls hope to see changes soon

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ROCHESTER, Minn. (FOX47) -- "Everything's been on hold, for a long long time," Blue Moon Ballroom owner Fred Gommels said.

In February, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz eased restrictions on private celebrations, receptions or parties. He declared at those with food or beverages, the capacity must be limited to allow for 6 feet of social distancing, and may not exceed 25%, up to a maximum of 50 people. In addition, these events must not occur between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 4:00 a.m.

Without food and drink is different. Then Gov. Walz said capacity may not
exceed 25%, up to a maximum of 250 people.

When asked in recent weeks about easing restrictions, he has continually said he is unsure of the timeline just yet.

"If we don't get the timing just right, then we get that bounce back," Gov. Walz said.

Some event hall owners say it's time.

"I don't want to second guess all the decisions they have made, but I do feel that there have been more restrictions put on small businesses than reasonable," Gommels said.

While it's frustrating, the owners we spoke with say they understand it's not an easy call to make.

"He's done well with it. I understand that it's difficult," Studio 324 owner Shawn Fagan said.

Studio 324 in Rochester hasn't seen a single event for more than a year.

"It's been zero for many, many, many months now," he said.

Fagan said he and his wife's event hall has been able to survive thanks to his photography business, which he said has done really well this year.

It's been tough for an industry that thrives on planning, with many weddings booked months or years in advance.

"It's been really hard for the brides and grooms," Gommels said.

But, event halls and those planning weddings are hopeful changes will be coming soon in Minnesota.

"There is light at that end of the tunnel, we hope that as President Biden has said in May, there will be a lot more options for vaccinations, and things can get cookin' again," Fagan said.

Iowa has no gathering restrictions. Wisconsin's restrictions vary throughout the state. For instance in La Crosse right now, there are no COVID-19 guest capacity limitations.

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Kamie Roesler

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