Economy
Written by Tom Steward | May 13, 2020

Some Businesses Set to Reopen Regardless of Walz’s Expected Extension of Shutdown

Those in the know expect Gov. Tim Walz to extend his two months and counting stay-at-home order due to the threat of the coronavirus in a virtual address later today to Minnesotans. But there’s trouble brewing among some frustrated and increasingly desperate small business owners who view the state’s approach as a one-size-fits-all plan that’s out-of-touch with conditions on the ground, particularly in exurban and rural areas.

Some employers contend they have little choice but to take matters into their own hands and reopen for business tomorrow regardless of what Walz announces or the potential legal consequences,  according to the Pioneer Press.

Tim Struck, owner of Crossfit Calypso in Farmington, announced Monday, May 11, 2020, that if Gov. Tim Walz extended the stay-at-home order that has shuttered his gym since March, he will defy it. (Courtesy of Steve Nelson)

In a speech in front of Farmington’s closed City Hall Monday, business owner Tim Struck said that when the stay-at-home order ends May 18, his business will open the next day — even if the governor extends his order that doesn’t allow it…

“I’ve spoken to a lot of small businesses over the last couple of days … they’re afraid to open. They’re afraid to get fines. They’re afraid they’ll be put in jail. They’re afraid they’ll lose their license, of legal expenses, and as Governor Walz said, basically asking people to put bad Yelp reviews on these businesses, which is just deplorable,” said Struck, owner of CrossFit Calypso. “Small-business owners should not be afraid to go to work to make an honest living. It’s the United States of America.”

The publicity over the state-sanctioned reopening of Minnesota’s largest candy store recently after the owners met with Walz’s virus task force only adds to the mounting dissatisfaction with the process.

RELATED: MN candy store allowed to re-open, deemed “essential”

Apparently some cities also plan to debate whether to allow businesses to reopen under certain conditions, as well.

Vadnais Heights posted a letter its mayor sent to Walz May 6 encouraging him to open the state’s small businesses.

“Not all categories of businesses are equal and one size doesn’t always fit all,” Mayor Heidi Gunderson wrote in the letter. “If big box stores can operate safely, surely a small main street retailer or salon can as well. Those proprietors know their businesses best and should have the ability to take appropriate precautions to make the best decisions for their customers and staff.”

The suburb of Lakeville will be among the first municipalities to tackle whether to send a message to the state on the vital importance of getting Main Street safely back up and running, sooner rather than later.

“The flood gates are opening,” tweeted Lakeville City Councilman Luke Hellier on Monday. “Several cities are planning resolutions on re-opening that will be voted on this week. Stay tuned for more.”

He did not give specifics, but added, “Whatever happens with the governor will determine what type of resolution I present to our council for discussion at our next meeting.”Another protest is planned Thursday at the governor’s residence to put pressure on Walz to open the state.

Businesses clearly recognize the risks associated with reopening and the need to do so safely and prudently. Yet the state also runs a risk, namely of losing the cooperation of the communities needed to enforce it, the longer and seemingly more arbitrary the shutdown becomes.

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