Crystal Bar and Grill owners Karl and Amy Gotfredson served corned beef and hash on Saint Patrick’s Day March 17. Business had been fairly regular throughout the day, but by 5 p.m., the bar would close service with the exception of pick-up orders.

On March 16, Walz ordered the suspension of dine-in service at bars and restaurants effective March 17 at 5 p.m. until at least March 27 at 5 p.m. Drive-through and pickup options would be allowed.

“Obviously it hurts financially,” said Karl, who said they could manage the partial closure for 10 days, but “every day after that 10 days hurts a little more.”

Karl’s biggest concern was for their 25-30 employees  — particularly bar and wait staff who get a significant portion of their income through tips. 

Karl said at this time the area restaurants are all supporting and encouraging each other through this difficult time. 

For now, the Crystal, like many other area restaurants are reducing their hours to serve takeout while hoping for the best.

Unemployment insurance

Information from MN Department of Employment and Economic Development:

Governor Tim Walz issued an executive order to help ensure that workers who are not able to work as a result of COVID-19 have benefits available. Workers who are unemployed or who have hours reduced due to the COVID-19 outbreak are asked to apply for unemployment benefits online at uimn.org.

The website can accept applications Monday through Friday 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Please apply on the website to ensure the most efficient processing of applications during this unprecedented situation.

Employers can find employer-focused COVID-19 related information that is updated regularly on the Information for Employers page: https://mn.gov/deed/newscenter/covid/employers/

Find out more about the actions taken on the Governor’s website: https://mn.gov/governor/news/

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Who is eligible for Unemployment Insurance benefits?

A: The core principle of unemployment insurance is that you are eligible if you are disconnected from your job by no fault of your own. Executive Order 20-05 extends that definition in the following ways.

You are eligible if:

  • If you have temporarily or permanently lost your job or had your hours reduced because of COVID-19
  • A healthcare professional or health authority recommended or ordered you to avoid contact with others due to COVID-19.
  • You have been ordered not to come to their workplace due to an outbreak of COVID-19.
  • You have received notification from a school district, daycare, or other childcare provider that either classes are canceled or your ordinary childcare is unavailable, provided that you made reasonable effort to obtain other childcare and requested time off or other accommodation from your employer and no reasonable accommodation was available.

Q: How do I apply for Unemployment Insurance?

A: If you have temporarily or permanently lost your job or had your hours reduced because of COVID-19, you should apply for unemployment insurance benefits. Apply online at  uimn.org. Applying online is important to provide for the most efficient processing during this unprecedented situation. Applying online also saves phone lines for those who speak a language other than English or don’t have internet access. 

Q: Should I take paid leave/sick leave due to this crisis, or take unemployment insurance?

A: Generally you should exhaust other forms of leave as they will pay you more than UI, but that is up to every individual worker.  Unemployment benefits are designed to provide about 50% of your regular wages and paid leave or sick leave typically provide more income if they are available. 

Q: How much in benefits am I eligible for?

A: Unemployment insurance pays approximately half what a worker’s average weekly wage was over the last year, to a maximum of $740 per week.  Typically, benefits last for 26 weeks if an individual is fully unemployed for each week  

Q: I was laid off today, how soon will I start to receive benefits?

A: We will process your application as quickly as possible. Submitting your application online is the most efficient way for us to process your application. The  uimn.org website is able to accept applications Monday through Friday 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. We are working to add Sunday hours.  

Q: I am a freelancer or self-employed, do I qualify for UI benefits?

A: The UI program is designed primarily for laid off workers who worked for an employer. Most Minnesota workers are “covered” by the UI program. Some self-employed individuals and independent contractors have previously elected to be covered by the UI program and they qualify for UI benefits. There is no assistance from the UI program for self-employed workers and independent contractors who have not previously elected coverage.  

Q: Is there anything DEED can do to help my business avoid layoffs?

A: If employers meet eligibility requirements, you may be able to enroll in the Shared Work Program. This program offers an alternative to layoffs in which employees work reduced hours during a temporary slowdown. Employees are paid unemployment benefits to offset part of their reduced wages. Employers with questions about the Shared Work Program should contact us at shared.work@state.mn.us.

Q: If I’m taking paid or sick leave during this time, am I eligible for UI?

A: Generally, if you are taking other forms of leave payment, you are not eligible for UI.

Q: How much money does Minnesota have in its UI Trust Fund?

A: Minnesota’s UI trust fund currently has a healthy amount of funding in it. We know we’re facing a surge in applications and will model this carefully. The federal government is currently considering providing additional emergency funds to all states. When states trust fund run dry, they can apply for 0% interest loans from the federal government.

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