Questions & Answers
Guidance Around Reopening of Businesses: We have an event center that provides space for weddings, business meetings, concerts and bingo. Two Questions: Question 1. For bingo, guests remain in their seats, wear masks and social distance. Would we be allowed to serve concessions such as pop, water, candy and chips? Guests would have to come up to the concession table to get their food, i.e. follow the restaurant and/or indoor seated guidance instead of the guidance for social gatherings, such as receptions? Question 2. If we provide a music concert and wanted to provide food where guests would get their food from the concession stand, sit at their table, wear masks when not eating and social distance, can we follow indoor seated venue guidance instead of social gathering guidance?
In both questions this is allowed as long as the events are open to the public and not private. They may serve food as long as the guests are seated when they eat and drink. They would also have to establish a “reservation system,” control access, and assign seats with social distancing of 6’.
Business Relief Funding: Would the Small Business Loan program highlighted in Gov. Walz's budget be administered by DEED or would it be administered by various non-profit organizations similar to the loan program the state launched last spring?
Yes it would be very similar to the model of the Small Business Emergency Loan Program. Our thought is you've got a great network of nonprofit lenders across the state. They know their communities, and the businesses that need help. They did a phenomenal job in partnership with DEED in the first round of that program. So our thesis is to continue to partner with those nonprofits (CDFIs) to help get money out to businesses that need it most.
Health: Question about Covid vaccine pilot program. I have preregistered my parents for two weeks on the pilot program. Neither have been selected for vaccine and both waitlisted both weeks. Do I have to continue to preregister every week till they get vaccines or do you preregister once at your preferred location and stay on waitlist until name is selected?
If a person was not chosen during a round of random selection their name will stay on the pre-registration waitlist for future opportunities. Refer to Find My Vaccine site, https://mn.gov/covid19/vaccine/find-vaccine/index.jsp for the latest vaccine information.
Reopening: The city I am in has a semi-professional baseball team. The owners are curious to know more information regarding outdoor events. Currently, the capacity is 25% with no more than 250 people. Will the state be dialing this forward possibly in the next few months? The owner is looking for further clarity to plan his season.
The actual limit right now is 150 not 250. We didn't go fully back to that phase three zone that we're in in terms of capacity, but yes, we are definitely actively examining capacity of limits. As you heard Assistant Commissioner Huff mention earlier, the trajectory the virus looks generally good. Now we're only a couple of weeks after the kind of initial dial forward of January, but we’re monitoring the data and the new variants are concerning. But that is undeniably the case – that we're in a much better state than we were in December. So it is an active discussion both in the large venues fronts, but also we're hearing a lot about sort of private parties within restaurants. On some of the caps, we want to be able to have not “one size fits all” rules for every type of grouping, and right now, large venues are in many ways kind of in the same place that restaurants are, which doesn't make a ton of sense to the point of the baseball stadium example. So you can't really compare you Bill’s Bar and Grill to CHS Field - they're just not the same. But things have been so bad in the state over the last few months, and you've all seen that. You have any situation in which more than 100 people gathering together was something we were very concerned about, but that appears to be shifting so more could come from us in the next weeks and months ahead. We know that planning is important especially for larger venues where you've got ticket sales and schedules. We hear you, ask you to continue to push us, and raise these issues up as we navigate this with you all.
*We are working with MDH to confirm the occupancy limit part of the Commissioner’s response.
In the meantime please refer to the Stay Safe Guidance information, Guidance for Entertainment and meeting Venues, Official Guidance: Outdoor Venues - Industry Guidance for Outdoor Seated Venues - English (PDF)
Business Relief Funding: What is the link or phone number for restaurants that did not receive their check? What number should a restaurant call if they didn't receive a relief payment from the Department of Revenue?
COVID-19 Business Relief Payments -https://www.revenue.state.mn.us/covid-19-business-relief-payments
Email: email@example.com Phone: 651-282-9999 | 800-657-3594
Gov’s budget proposal: Can you please explain further the PFML (Paid Family Medical Leave) proposal?
PFML is Paid Family Medical Leave. We are unique amongst countries in the world that doesn't have a national benefit, and in fact this is a bipartisan issue on the federal level. To put this into perspective – this would provide those who have to step away from work to handle a family emergency or a newborn child a chance to do that and have some level of level of wage replacement. That's not true for one and four workers right now Minnesota. For one in four of them – they are doing this completely on their own dime, and we don’t need a reminder of why it's important to be able to step away for health reasons - we got it this year! This proposal would charge a premium on employers about .6%. Half of that can be picked up by the employer and half by the employee. So really the cost per employer is like a cup of coffee a week and look at the benefits you get from that 12 weeks of leave when you need it.
Many Minnesota companies have these proposals in place right now. It is often the smaller businesses who can't provide this kind of benefit at scale. If you have three of four employees, it is hard to provide this kind of a benefit at that scale. So having a system similar to UI where employers pay in, and the benefits are there for those when they need it is that is the thesis of this proposal.
Startup costs for the state are estimated at $11.5 million just to get this running, and you have to build technology to pull in the payroll tax. We would build out a team within DEED to execute on this similar to how we have done that with unemployment insurance. There's an issue too of how much wages you'd replace. We'd have a sliding scale, and there could be anywhere between 90%-55%, probably on average about 2/3 of wage replacement. So it's not the full wage replacement given it’s a federal program. There is also some partial wage leave for family leave too.
We spent a lot of time over the last couple of years on this, and if you've followed this proposal in the past, it came up in the last biennial budget session when the Governor was elected. We spent a lot of time analyzing other states programs, such as Rhode Island, California, and others, who have gotten this right. It's a growing trend across the country and really a huge differentiator to attract workforce. If you think long-term, the first 1,000 days of a child’s life, and even just those first 100 days, are absolutely essential to brain development, to long term growth, and having a parent there with your newborn is of course proven to be one of the number one ways that babies get off to a good start. The fact that some people are being forced to choose between work and their newborn children is just bad for our workforce longer term.
So more discussion on this coming up. Those are some of the specifics, and we're looking forward to talking about this with the legislature. This will be a good and robust discussion and something that we think is important for Minnesota.
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