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Coronavirus In Minnesota: Prior Lake Restaurants Petition Gov. Walz To Let Them Test Dine-Ins

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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Pull in to a numbered parking spot outside The Pointe Grill and Bar in Prior Lake, call their phone number, and within a few short moments a staff member, wearing gloves, brings the order directly to your window.

"The community's been great, they've been awesome, they've been coming out to support us," owner Ryan Bartlett said "But it's a fourth of our revenue."

The lack of business is why he and Dave Carlson, an owner of the neighboring TJ Hooligan's, say they're desperate to open for dine-in customers.

"Somebody's got to start, and I think we're ready to do that," Carlson said.

Both are part of a coalition of 15 Prior Lake restaurants that wrote a letter to Gov. Tim Walz explaining their struggles, but more importantly the safety measures they're willing to implement in order to be test sites for dining in.

READ MORE: Most Restaurants Still Struggling After Pivot To Takeout

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the current stay-at-home order only allows for restaurants to do pick-up and delivery. Their mission to reopen has the full support of the city council and Mayor Kirt Briggs.

"This is not just throwing something out there. To me, it needs to be rational, it needs to be safe," Briggs said.

The letter included a thorough list explaining how they'd clean and sanitize their restaurants, along with social distancing guidelines such as fewer tables and only taking reservations instead of walk-ups.

"We want to get back at it, but we want to be safe, too," Bartlett said.

Sue Carlson, Dave's wife, say they will do whatever it takes.

"We're willing to do it to make it work. And it would be just great if we found that hey, this does work, then it can branch out to other communities," Sue said.

Both owners and Mayor Briggs understand reopening might concern some people. Beyond safety measures, they suggest that anyone who is worried about visiting restaurants to wait a few more weeks and months before doing so.

"About 20% of the citizens here in Prior Lake are in what we now know to be a high-risk category in regards to age. So one of the key messages would be for those residents in Prior Lake, please do not come downtown, this is not the time," Briggs said.

If Gov. Walz entertains their idea, Briggs said the restaurants would need time to prepare. Beyond adjusting the interior with new safety guidelines, they'd have to hire back furloughed staff and get them trained.

"We've had a lot of people that have told us if you opened up tomorrow, we'd be there," Sue said.

READ MORE: California Offers Glimpse Of What Re-Opened Restaurants Could Look Like

And with each passing day, the bills and debt for the owners continue to pile up.

"It's time for us to step in and do what we can to make sure that they're here on the back side of this," Briggs said.

Several boutique shops in Prior Lake also wrote letter to the governor, making a similar request to be test sites for reopening.

Mayor Briggs said both initiatives also have the support of State Rep. Tony Albright and State Sen. Eric Pratt.

CONTACT US: Do you have a story about the COVID-19 pandemic to share with us? Please contact us here.

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