Governor Walz at Monday’s daily COVID-19 briefing invited Abdirahman Kahin, owner of Afro Deli and the 2018 African Awards Business of the Year, to share the challenges restaurants have been facing following the governor’s order in March to close all restaurants except for takeout and delivery due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Governor Walz has been under mounting pressure to end the stay-at-home order that he extended last week through May 18. At Monday’s press briefing however, Kahin praised the governor for working with the hospitality industry to work on plans on how to reopen safely. Joining Kahin to express similar gratitude was Liz Rammer, the president and CEO of Hospitality Minnesota an industry trade group that represents restaurants, lodging and campgrounds.
Kahin shared that three of his five restaurants in the Twin Cities are closed with the other two following the governor’s directive of offering just takeout and delivery. Kahin said as a business and community leader he is used to challenges “but this epidemic has presented new challenges for my business, but through it all we continue to focus on the health of our employees and customers.”
He said Governor Walz and DEED Commissioner Steve Grove have been receptive to suggestions he has offered on how restaurants can reopen safely, and that his business is ready to get back to business by following the safety guidelines that the state has developed.
Kahin’s sentiments were shared by Rammer who said the industry employees upwards of 300,000 Minnesotans and has taken what she called a monumental hit and gave an ominous warning that “more than half of these businesses face certain, permanent closure in the next two months.”
“This is a tough time but if we go through 2020 safe and healthy, we will be ready for the profits that follow afterwards and as Minnesotans we are in this together,” said Kahin.
On his part, Governor Walz promised the state that he is working hard to get businesses reopened, “I get it, this sense of urgency,” he said.