Minnesota COVID-19 relief bill projected to pass after weeks of negotiations

Miguel Octavio
Updated: December 14, 2020 11:55 PM
Created: December 14, 2020 10:55 PM

(ABC 6 News) - It's a financial lifeline restaurant, bar and fitness centers say they need to stay open.

Minnesota lawmakers reached a tentative agreement Monday on a COVID-19 relief bill projected to be around $216 million. It also includes a 13-week extension of unemployment benefits starting Dec. 27.

At least $88 million will go toward bars, restaurants, and fitness centers who've lost at least 30% of sales from the pandemic. Grants could range from $10,000 to $45,000 from the Department of Revenue depending on employee size.

An additional more than $100 million will go toward county governments to aid businesses. The rest toward movie theaters and convention centers. 

While no amount of relief can make up for the losses from the pandemic, business owners said it's better than nothing.

At Pasquale's Neighborhood Pizzeria in Rochester, it's much emptier these days.

"If we can go back to last year this time, we were constantly packed inside these place. It was seat after seat after seat," executive chef Pasquale Presa said.

This year, tables are spaced apart to meet social distancing needs for takeout. Presa has had to be creative from meals-to-go to frozen pizzas for his business to survive. 

But he said it's about what he can do for guests that matters most from high quality recipes to warm hospitality. 

"It's not about the profit but about how you can provide, how you can give back, because it's the wheel that comes back all the time," Presa said.

The Martial Arts Fitness Center in Rochester may also benefit from the new relief. 

"I don't think there's any business here who expects a complete bailout... but we do expect at least some help," director Fred Gommels said.

While the partial shutdown is financially hurting Gommel's business, he said he understands mitigations are needed to save lives, despite his challenges. 

"Unless you've a private business, you have no idea of the challenges that we face day in and day out. Let alone, facing a pandemic," Gommels said.

We're still months away before any sense of normalcy but surrendering for some business owners is not a choice. 

"It's scary everyday so I can't let it bring me down. I've got to continue to fight through because if we stop that hope, then what are we here for?" Presa said.


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