HUDSON --- Bars and restaurants will continue to close early on weekends as the council approved an extension of its state of emergency and early close ordinance at its Monday, Jan. 4, meeting.
The ordinance was first put in place in December after the city saw a flood of Minnesota visitors as that state’s bars and restaurants were closed due to the pandemic. An accompanying high rise in violent crime in the downtown area led to law enforcement issues and an increase in mutual aid calls. The issue culminated in a fatal stabbing, and the council called a special meeting to declare the public safety state of emergency.
Since the closure went into place, Police Chief Geoff Willems said the department has not seen any of those violent crimes.
The initial ordinance closed all places serving alcohol for onsite consumption at 10 p.m. on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, as well as the holidays. The extension lightens the ordinance a bit, removing Thursdays and pushing the close time back to 10:30 p.m.
With the 10 p.m. close, Willems said establishments were empty of customers by 10:30 p.m. and downtown was cleared out by 10:40 p.m. He said he did not have enough information to speak on a possible 11 p.m. close, but midnight would be a mistake.
“You’ve already gotten past the tipping point at midnight,” Willems told the Common Council.
Council member Randy Morrissette II’s proposal of an 11 p.m. close time was turned down by Council member Sarah Atkins Hoggatt, who said she wanted to take things slowly. Morrissette seconded her motion for 10:30 p.m. instead.
Council member Jim Webber said he would prefer to keep the ordinance as is. The 10 p.m. time is when restaurant owners and workers have told him the clientele rolls over. Atkins Hoggatt said the half hour gives current patrons a little more time to enjoy their company and beverages, but not enough time to bring a turnover of new people.
The ordinance was extended until the council meet on Tuesday, Jan. 19.
Indoor dining at bars and restaurants is still closed in Minnesota until at least Jan. 11. City Administrator Aaron Reeves said Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz is expected to give an update before that.