Businesses can’t operate without a plan. They can’t hire people, order food and supplies, or advertise the services they offer until they know what (and when) they have something to sell.

This month marks one year — March 17, to be exact — since Minnesota was first shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic. Some businesses are still being negatively impacted even though the numbers keep going down and immunizations go up. The dials are turning too slowly in Minnesota. Previously when they have been adjusted, it’s with little warning and no time to prepare.

We have seen our business and the economy gradually open up and then be closed down again with no plan. Currently, our restaurants, fitness and event centers, barbers, salons, churches and theatres are still at limited capacity. Our community celebrations, graduations, and proms are also in a ‘holding pattern’ and largely can’t be planned without knowing what metrics Governor Tim Walz will set forth.

Imagine trying to plan a wedding or community event without knowing if or when the gathering will be allowed. Some have postponed weddings not once, but twice.

Ken Warner, Willmar Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce President
Ken Warner, Willmar Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce Presidentsubmitted

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With Iowa, South Dakota and Wisconsin being open or just opening (or at least left to the county or city to make their own decision on being limited), Minnesota is losing business to them, and lots of business! What Minnesota needs is a plan and a goal. If health metrics stay low and continue to improve, our hospitals and health care workers are not overwhelmed, and immunizations continue to be deployed rapidly, then we are now at a place to demand a plan.

Representative Dave Baker, R-Willmar, authored a bill HF1336 “Roadmap to Recovery” … that has done all of this, a stepped process with health metrics, and a goal date of May 1 to reopen the Minnesota at 100% (with a few exceptions for large events). He has met with the Governor’s office, the Minnesota Department of Health, Minnesota House and Senate members and has bi-partisan support. However, when he urges feedback from MDH or Walz, he hears nothing but crickets. The roadmap allows the governor to restrict business again if numbers spike in a fast manner.

Beth Fischer is executive director of the Willmar Lakes Area Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Beth Fischer is executive director of the Willmar Lakes Area Convention & Visitors Bureau.Submitted photo

The Minnesota Twins have asked for a plan to hold 10,000 fans this season. Most think this will be allowed. They likely will hear of this decision this week by Walz, and that is 30 days in advance of their home opener. They have asked for, and will likely get a plan. Governor, please give our businesses the same respect and work with the legislature in a bipartisan manner.

Businesses have done a wonderful job keeping the workplace safe. Residents understand so much today after a year of seeing the MDH numbers. It’s time to allow our state economy to get back open with fewer restrictions. Our most vulnerable citizens have been vaccinated. What are we waiting for?

Governor Walz, it’s time to set that plan and it must be done now. Please support the Roadmap to Recovery bill that has business groups, the hospitality industry and so many others looking for a way to “start living again in Minnesota” safely.

Ken Warner is president of the Willmar Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce.

Beth Fischer is executive director of the Willmar Lakes Area Convention & Visitors Bureau.

This commentary was cosigned by more than 90 others representing businesses, organizations and individuals in the Willmar Lakes Area. To see the complete list, please go to www.willmarareachamber.com or www.willmarlakearea.com.