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Local restaurant leaders react to latest COVID-19 restrictions

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DULUTH, MN -- Local bar and restaurant owners are now forced to make tough decisions, hoping to get the most out of their business while following the new restrictions.

The restrictions laid out Tuesday by Minnesota Governor Tim Walz came as no surprise to some local bar and restaurant owners.

"The restrictions that were put in place today are not necessarily as bad as they could get. We would hate to see indoor dining go away again," said Tony Bronson, president of the Duluth Local Restaurant Association.

Bronson said the new restrictions are tough and he hopes the long dark winter for hospitality services doesn't get worse.

"We were glad to hear Commissioner Grove talking about making sure people's livelihoods, as well as lives, are being looked at. That's what is important to us as well. We want good public health but we also want a healthy economy and we know they can be tied together," said Bronson.

Meanwhile, with the number of both indoor and outdoor gatherings capped once again, Jason Vincent, owner of the Boat Club said they've lost more than $200,000 on events.

"Our banquet business has pretty much been decimated since March and it doesn't look like it will have a recovery any time soon, so that's probably the biggest impact," said Vincent.

Vincent said they have next to zero holiday parties in the coming months, which has forced them to get creative to survive.

"We've opened up our banquet spaces to dining room space. That's been our saving grace. Because of the loss of capacity in our dining room and our bar we were able to shift some of those tables into our two banquet rooms that are attached to the restaurant," said Vincent.

Both Bronson and Vincent urge people who are not comfortable dining in, to order take out, helping their businesses survive these hard times.

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Ryan Compeau

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