40 Minneapolis businesses ask city leaders to help bring back customers

More than 40 Minneapolis restaurants have sent a letter to Mayor Jacob Frey and the City Council asking for support as businesses struggle with penalties and safety concerns, according to a report.

Minneapolis businesses and restaurants have reopened but must follow a number of rules to stay open during the pandemic, which includes requiring bar patrons to be seated, limiting indoor capacity to 50%, limiting outdoor seating to a maximum of 250 people and limiting groups to six people.

The group of restaurants said they are optimistic that there are “plans to be followed” and “protective measures in place” to stay open, but they called on the local government to “allow dining at bars again… without penalizing the whole for the actions of the few, so that restaurants can choose how to weather this storm and come out in one — albeit damaged –piece,” according to KARE11.

“This goes beyond COVID,” the restaurant owners wrote. “There is no current plan of action, cure, or sense of ‘We’re all in this together’ for the other worries plaguing downtown, specifically, the real and perceived rising rates of crime.”

The pandemic has initiated a fear of dining out as people struggle with returning to pre-pandemic patterns and the possibility of catching the virus without a vaccine in place. Owners also took a hit at the city’s failure to communicate a specific safety plan amid calls to “defund the police.”

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A number of businesses in downtown Minneapolis suffered damage after riots took place following George Floyd‘s May 25 death. The Minnesota Star-Tribune noted in an article last updated on July 13 that more than 1,500 Minneapolis-St. Paul businesses were damaged in the wake of the riots.

Officials estimated in July that damage could cost the city up to $500 million, on top of nearly $13 million for National Guard deployment.

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“No matter which side of the ‘defund the police’ debate you fall on, the absence of communication and transparency about public safety plans creates even more fear, uncertainty and frustration,” they wrote.

An AutoZone store burns as protesters gather outside of the Third Precinct in Minneapolis Thursday, May 28, 2020.  (Mark Vancleave/Star Tribune via AP)

An AutoZone store burns as protesters gather outside of the Third Precinct in Minneapolis Thursday, May 28, 2020.  (Mark Vancleave/Star Tribune via AP)

Signatories concluded the letter by asking Frey and the City Council for “practices that will encourage a return to business and a return to the downtown offices” and “the prevention of theft and destruction, with no tolerance for violence and assault.”

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“We are still supporting the city, but the city is not supporting us,” they wrote.

In a statement to KARE11, Frey’s office said the mayor has “enhanced accountability on critical incident scenes, put in place new policy measures to emphasize de-escalation, and overhauled the [police] department’s use of force policy.”

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The statement added that Frey’s office has “made the difficult but necessary decision to reallocate resources within the department, reassigning over 90 active officers to 911 response and investigative work.”

“Both are committed to working with any and all partners willing to commit to doing the hard work of creating safer, healthier communities and moving our city forward,” the statement said.

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