CITY OF HUDSON — A small Wisconsin city outside Minneapolis has passed an ordinance it hopes will help prevent masses of people traveling from their western neighbor to take advantage of their laxer COVID-19 rules, like bars and restaurants operating at capacity late into the evening.
The Common Council of the City of Hudson, sitting on the banks of the Lake Saint Croix on the state border, unanimously passed an ordinance Tuesday requiring a curfew during party-heavy Friday and Saturday nights.
Starting Dec. 11 and ending Jan. 3, all establishments holding Class B Beer, Class B Intoxicating Liquor, and/or Class C wine licenses must close no later than 10 p.m. on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
Violation of the order may end in a bar or restaurant's owner having their license suspended, or even revoked.
During a Zoom call Tuesday evening, members of Hudson's Common Council examined how less strict coronavirus rules in the city are in fact leading people from the Minneapolis area into their bars and restaurants. Council members connected the rise in visitors to a spike in public drunkenness, increased traffic and crime - the low point being a stabbing that left one person dead and two others injured on Dec. 6.
The ordinance the council passed concludes that crime has occurred in the later evening and early morning hours - around the time of bar closing. The ordinance further concludes that crime appears to be directly related to over-service sale of alcoholic beverages.
Some council members drew a line between restricting business hours due to the coronavirus, and restricting hours because of a threat to public safety. Restricting business hours due to the virus appears to be out of the question, as to not stifle the local economy. Restricting hours as a way to prevent crime caused by late-night drinking by non-residents, though, appears to be a just use of power by the council.
Others during the meeting argued that the spike in drunkenness and crime has become taxing for local law enforcement and EMS, services paid through local residents' taxes. Those services no longer have the same resources to devote to locals, "thus jeopardizing public safety in the City of Hudson and surrounding areas," according to the ordinance.
The tight restrictions on bars and restaurants in Minnesota are expected to be in place through Jan. 4, the day after Hudson's ordinance concludes.