Small businesses worry about second shutdown in Minnesota as COVID-19 cases grow

Minnesota restaurants and small businesses that were able to survive the shutdown in spring due to COVID-19 worry another rollback of coronavirus restrictions could be on the way.

For Wendy’s House of Soul in Minneapolis, it’s been a year of survival. She’s had to relocate and while some small businesses have succumbed to the pandemic, her restaurant is still standing.

"What keeps us going is our takeout; our to-go has really helped our business tremendously," said owner Wendy Puckett.

Nearly eight months into the public health crisis, COVID-19 hospitalizations, infections, and deaths are reaching a new high. Friday, state health officials reported more than 5,000 new cases. More than 1,000 are full as 36 more people have died.

"These numbers, these trajectories are very concerning," said state health commissioner Jan Malcolm. "And it’s just why we keep appealing to Minnesotans that our behavior is driving this."

The rising numbers are a source of concern for many small businesses that were already hit hard by the first statewide lockdown earlier this spring.

"More stress, it’s scary," said Puckett. "I don’t have any other word. Your mind gets to spinning about not just my business, but I have a home so I have to take care about that too."

Health officials so far have given no indication that dial-back measures will be put in place, but Puckett is prepared for anything.

"I think that people will still come in and support of us," she said. "We’ll find different ways to make it happen; we’re survivors. We’re going to make it."

In their daily press briefing, MDH officials say that they hope these latest numbers catch the public's attention and force people to think hard about the role we all play in slowing the spread.