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Minnesota vs. Iowa: How businesses are handling their state’s orders

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Travel Lanes in LeRoy

LEROY, Minn. (KTTC) - For the towns on the Iowa and Minnesota border, it is hard to see businesses reopen in Iowa tomorrow while those in Minnesota are still shut down.

Businesses on either side of the state line are adopting a new normal but are not sure how long they can survive.

"Knocked the wind right out of us, you can imagine," said Mike Buringrud, co-owner of the restaurant City Limits with his wife, Dawn.

COVID-19 hit local businesses hard. However, St. Ansgar is a tight-knit community. One that extends of the border to Minnesota, especially for the owners of Lyle Liquor.

"Robin Meyer and her husband are wonderful friends," said Buringrud. "Her brother is like my best friend. That kind of thing."

The owners of Lyle Liquor thank the community for supporting them but say the majority of their business comes from the bar, which remains closed.

However, across the border in Iowa, bars and restaurants look forward to opening back up Friday.

"We're prepared. We're following the governor's guidelines," Buringrud said. "It's going to be 6 to 8 feet between each table."

Unfortunately for patrons and owners alike, the bar is still closed. City Limits will be operating at half capacity but with full staff.

One Mower County business owner says he would not be open to that idea in Minnesota.

"My building is so big I'd have to bring the staff back on to do half of what we normally do," said Travel Lanes owner James Gronwoldt.

Travel Lanes is the only restaurant open in LeRoy. Even with the liquor store open, they are missing revenue from the bowling alley.

"They're ready to come back. They're wanting to come back," said Gronwoldt about his customers. "I have people asking if I can serve them a beer while they are waiting for food. I can't even do that."

In both states, owners are feeling the strain. They await a return to normalcy.

"It has to be very soon," said Buringrud.

"We definitely need to get back up and running," agreed Gronwoldt. "As far for how long I can hold out, I don't know. We'll find out down the road."

It could mean some permanent changes to these small communities.

"If they don't, this town will become a ghost town," said the Travel Lanes owner about his town of around 1,000 people.

In St. Ansgar, sometimes it already appears to be.

"Most of the time words can't describe it," said Buringrud. "I'm just in awe how you can take a vibrant community such as St. Ansgar and it just goes boom."

Mower County has 28 coronavirus cases but only two total in all of Iowa's Mitchell County. While Minnesota has tested more people, it has had fewer cases than Iowa but more deaths.

Alex Tejada

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