Unanticipated Consequences: COVID-19 Shutdowns Hold Minnesotans’ Boats Hostage

All the people that have a boat in storage, they can't get it out, because that's a closed business," Senator Paul Gazelka said.

Republican Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka once again asked Governor Tim Walz to revoke his small buisses shutdown, Tuesday, this time in the name of Minnesotans who have been prevented from accessing their boat.

Walz initially ordered tens of thousands of small business to shut their doors in mid March, but has since expanded his order. Now, small business owners are to be without income for well over a month. This decision has wrought massive negative economic consequences on Minnesota as the state experiences record numbers of unemployment applications, but it has also had less anticipated outcomes as well.

One of these is for those who own a boat, as Gazelka pointed out, according to Minnesota journalist Ricardo Lopez.

“All the people that have a boat in storage, they can’t get it out, because that’s a closed business,” the Senate Majority leader said. Normally, this time of year would be the exciting start to a season on the lake for countless Minnesota citizens.

“I hope he [Walz] lifts the stay-at-home and loosens up the job restrictions so more people can get back to work,” he added. “We want all the people that should be working to be working.”

Those who enjoy Minnesota’s famous 10,000 lakes are not only barred from retrieving their boats, but Walz’s COVID-19 restrictions may short the state over $5,000,000,000 in economic activity as well if the state’s lake going culture is to remain stunted.

Boating is an enormous industry in Minnesota. The sale of boats and boat accessories alone moves over $5.5 billion through the state’s economy every year, according to Twin Cities Business. This statistic doesn’t even begin to consider other economic stimulation that results from boat owners eating at lakeside restaurants or making other leisurely lakeside expenditures.

It remains unclear to what degree Walz’s stay at home order applies to lakesports, especially for those who live shoreside on private bodies of water like Lake Minnetonka.

Department of Natural Resources spokeswoman Kim Pleticha says that conservation officers can “absolutely” stop boat operators under the authority of Walz’s order. However, she also notes that “no decisions have been made” regarding public fishing piers and shore sites, according to the Star Tribune.

Kyle Hooten

Kyle Hooten is Managing Editor of Alpha News. His coverage of Minneapolis has been featured on television shows like Tucker Carlson Tonight and in print media outlets like the Wall Street Journal.