St. Paul raises bar, restaurant license fees with vax mandate in place

The increase particularly impacts bars and restaurants, which have recently been hit with mask and vaccine mandates by the St. Paul city government.

The Gnome Craft Pub on Selby Avenue in St. Paul (The Gnome/Facebook)

In a move described as “shockingly tone deaf,” the city of St. Paul is increasing the permit, license, and certificate fees that establishments like bars and restaurants must pay annually.

St. Paul’s Department of Safety and Inspections (DSI) sent an email to customers Thursday saying they would increase the fees by 1.5 percent to “take inflation into account” and “better recover costs in some program areas.”

The increase particularly impacts bars and restaurants, which have recently been hit with mask and vaccine mandates by the St. Paul city government.

DSI’s email also makes note of increased fees for “elevator and moving stair safety inspections, the Fire Certificate of Occupancy program, and Vacant Building registration.”

The increases go into effect Monday, Feb. 7.

St. Paul’s proof of vaccination requirement for bars and restaurants went into effect last month, right at the same time as the city of Minneapolis. The cities’ mask mandates were reimposed the previous week.

“This is a critical next step to avoid closures. We want to stay open and we need to stay safer,” Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said in early January. “In fact, this is an opportunity for you to patron your favorite local businesses while being a whole lot safer. So you can go out to eat knowing that the people around you have been vaccinated or have received a negative test within the last few days.”

Customers have responded to the burdensome restrictions by simply not eating out. Minneapolis restaurants saw a whopping 65% fewer reservations in January 2022 compared to January 2019, a figure on par with other far-left cities like San Francisco, Seattle, and Portland.

Mayor Frey publicly said he thought restaurants were “absolutely packed” in a video published after the vaccine mandate came into effect.