Scores of small businesses in Minnesota are vowing to defy new COVID-19 restrictions by remaining open if they are extended by Democratic Gov. Tim Walz later this week.
Walz issued a “dial back” order for the state Nov. 20 due to an increase in coronavirus infections which is set to expire on Friday. However, he has given signals that he plans to extend the order on Wednesday, The Epoch Times reported.
The order instructs all bars and restaurants in the state to close to indoor and outdoor dining and to provide take-out only service. In addition, the order also closed gyms and other businesses.
But Darius Teichroew, founder of the ReOpen Minnesota Coalition, told CBS News that the objective of the loosely-aligned organization is “to provide a little bit of peace and prosperity to these owners and their desperate employees as we approach Christmas.”
Some 150 small businesses are planning to defy the order if it comes.
“At the end of the day, people just want to feed their families, care for their employees, provide for their communities,” he said.
Under an initiative begun by the group, local business owners are encouraged to “join the cause and commit to opening” by promising to continue operating in spite of a potential extension to the current lockdown order from Walz.
“Fill out this form to indicate that you will no longer allow our governor to strangle your ability and God-given right to care for your own family and community,” a note on the pledge form states. “If you are willing, your business will be included in the list of open businesses to be released the evening before your chosen opening day (Dec. 16 or Dec. 18).”
The group’s Facebook page notes further that “fear is real out there, and fearful people can be very mean, so a kind word to these owners and employees in this Christmas season can mean everything.”
“For those detractors to our cause, we appeal to your sense of justice and mercy, which we hope you have,” the post continues. “These businesses represent not some money-hungry owners looking to swim in pools of gold, but rather people who have spent their lives risking so much to accomplish their dreams, employees struggling to put food on the table and a roof over their heads just as Christmas arrives, and so many other suffering Minnesotans. So we ask you simply and gently, have a heart.”
The post also seeks to “challenge” people who say remaining open puts others at risk.
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“For those who want to say that these businesses are putting others at risk… we challenge you to show us from any science and data that the risk of going to a bar, or working out at a gym, or bowling ten frames, or teaching a small dance class is any more dangerous than going to Walmart, walking through a crowded MOA (Mall of America), or spending two hours in a busy supermarket,” the post continued.
“Trust us, we all have families, many of us have family members in the medical field, many of us have lost loved ones to COVID. But the state’s own data DOES NOT support any of the current lockdown, and much of the country and world stands amazed that Minnesota and a few other states still have leaders resorting to the failed policies of mass lockdown, especially lockdowns so arbitrary as this one,” it adds.
The post goes on to note that the aligned businesses “demand the right to provide for our families” while providing “income and employment to our workers.”
Remaining open, however, carries potential consequences, The Epoch Times noted, which include potential fines and jail time.
A Walz spokesman, Teddy Tschann, criticized the initiative, saying in a statement that “the overwhelming majority of restaurants and bars in Minnesota are doing their part to keep Minnesotans safe during this historic pandemic.”
He added that Walz has taken measures “to provide these businesses with immediate financial relief.”