This is a letter that was collaboratively sent to Governor Walz’s office today. It’s intent was to let the Governor know that the industry stands together and deeply need assistance now and in the future. We are here to serve you.
MLBA Executive Director
March 20, 2020
Governor Tim Walz
75 Rev Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, Suite 130
St. Paul, MN 55155
Email: [email protected]
RE: Responsible Beverage Sales are Essential During COVID-19 & Financial Relief For Minnesota’s Hospitality Industry
Dear Governor Walz:
We submit this letter on behalf of Minnesota’s hospitality industry and its employees, specifically the Minnesota Licensed Beverage Association, the Minnesota Municipal Beverage Association, the Minnesota Beer Wholesalers Association, the Minnesota Wine & Spirits Wholesalers Association, and the Teamsters. We write for three reasons. First, to thank you for your leadership during this grave public health crisis. Second, to stress the importance of designating the beverage industry (suppliers, distributors and retailers) as “essential businesses” during the COVID-19 emergency. And, third, to request financial relief for the family-owned, independent businesses in this state which, in order to protect the larger community, are experiencing the grave and severe impact of the mitigation efforts to contain this pandemic.
DESIGNATION OF THE BEVERAGE INDUSTRY AS AN “ESSENTIAL BUSINESS”
The Minnesota hospitality industry appreciates the efforts that have been taken to manage the impact of COVID-19 and supports federal, state and local government efforts to ensure the health, safety and well-being of the American population. As we continue to address the challenges presented by this unprecedent outbreak, ensuring consistent access to a reliable food supply and other essential goods and services will remain a shared priority for government as well as the private sector.
Decisions are being made at the state and local levels regarding compliance with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommendation that gatherings be limited to 50 people or less. Similar state and local decisions are being made regarding the enactment of restricted movement policies such as shelter-in-place orders. With the closing of bars, restaurants and other public-gathering venues, state and local governments are also designating as essential those businesses that provide food, beverages and other goods that are critical to the needs of the public.
Just as supermarkets, convenience stores, drug stores and other retail sources of food and beverage supplies, including off-premise retail licensees, are essential to the public, so are the supply chain businesses that service them, including manufacturing and distribution businesses that engage in food and beverage transportation to retail. As an example, Minnesota’s alcohol distributors, in addition to beer, wine, and spirits, also provide bottled water, juice, energy drinks, soda and other nonalcoholic beverages to retailers (supermarkets, convenience stores, and on- and off-premise restaurants, bars, and liquor stores). For these reasons, the entire beverage industry should be deemed essential to the efforts to respond to COVID-19 concerns.
In the event that you deem it necessary to issue a mandatory shelter in place order, consumers will obviously need and desire to obtain the beverages that they and their families ordinarily consume. If closure of these off-premise food and beverage outlets were to occur or occur inconsistently, Minnesotans would not be able to obtain the staples upon which they depend and would likely travel to remote localities to find an open store with available supply. This would likely increase the risk of community spread. In addition, closing down these essential retail outlets and the supply chain that service them, would likely encourage black market activity and consumer gouging. Accordingly, we urge you to consider these stores and the supply chain (manufacturers and distributors) that service them “essential”.
THE GRAVE AND SEVERE IMPACT ON THE HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY AS A RESULT OF MITIGATION EFFORTS AND THE NEED FOR INDUSTRY WIDE FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE
The economic importance of the hospitality industry to Minnesota’s economy cannot be overstated. Over 330,000 Minnesota jobs in retail, food service, hospitality and recreational sectors – about 13 percent of the state’s private nonagricultural employment – face losing hours and jobs. Most of the businesses in this sector are relatively small, independent family-owned businesses without substantial cash reserves. Through no fault of their own, on-premise retailers have been required to close by governmental action and, furthermore, have been required by governmental action to provide sick pay and unemployment compensation benefits to their employees. It is estimated that anywhere from 25% to 40% of these businesses will fail. This will not only severely and detrimentally impact these small businesses and their employees but will also ripple through the supply chain that services them and through Minnesota’s economy as a whole. These retail operations are being shuttered for an indeterminate amount of time, their sales and revenue have abruptly stopped, and millions of dollars’ worth of food and beverage product will have to destroyed, while at the same time the ongoing costs and financial commitments push these businesses into an ever deeper financial hole or bankruptcy.
While the hospitality industry understands the necessity of these closures and mitigation measures to protect the broader community, it also believes that the financial burden of these closures and mitigation measures should not fall solely on these businesses and their employees. The broader community should also shoulder these financial costs. For these reasons, Governor Walz, Minnesota’s Hospitality Industry requests that you consider a financial relief package for the industry to mitigate against these losses occasioned on a few for the benefit of the many. The Minnesota Hospitality Industry is evaluating how the federal relief package might ease these crushing burdens and will thereafter be developing state specific proposals for your consideration. Thank you for your leadership and your consideration of these comments.
Very truly yours,
MINNESOTA LICENSED BEVERAGE ASSOCIATION
Tony Chesak, Executive Director ([email protected])
MINNESOTA MUNICIPAL BEVERAGE ASSOCIATION
Paul Kaspszak, Executive Director ([email protected])
MINNESOTA BEER WHOLESALERS ASSOCIATION
Michael Madigan, President & Legal Counsel ([email protected])
MINNESOTA WINE & SPIRITS WHOLESALERS ASSOCATION
Samuel Kaplan, Legal Counsel ([email protected])
TEAMSTERS JOINT COUNCIL 32
Ed Reynoso, Political Director ([email protected])
Chris Schmitter ([email protected])
Kristin Beckmann ([email protected])
Patrick Tanis ([email protected])
Carla Cincotta ([email protected])
Tony Chesak ([email protected])
Paul Kaspszak ([email protected])
Michael Madigan ([email protected])
Samuel Kaplan ([email protected])
Ed Reynoso ([email protected])