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Several Minnesota business owners pressure Governor to reopen as planned

An organized effort is taking place while lawmakers discuss a COVID relief package.

MINNEAPOLIS — Right now there's an organized effort to try to save some of the small businesses that have not been able to operate as normal under the most recent restrictions from the governor.

Restaurants are take out, pick up only. Gyms have been closed down. 

Those business owners have repeatedly said they cannot go on like this any longer. They are currently waiting to see what Governor Walz will announce on Wednesday in terms of the restrictions he announced four weeks ago.

However, some who have gathered under ReOpen Minnesota Coalition have decided that they aren't going to wait any longer, because they can't.

"I hate that we have sides in this, but our side has a lot of people represented in that same boat," Darius Theichroew said, referring to people who have lost their loved ones to COVID-19. "They've lost loved ones, and they also see that there's a nuance here that we need."

Theichroew said more than 150 businesses have joined the coalition to reopen on Wednesday and Thursday, even if that's in defiance of the governor's orders.

"They're at their wit's end and this is the opportunity to give them one last shot to be able to save what little they have left," Theichroew said.

On Monday morning, Republican Senator Michelle Benson echoed similar sentiments on Twitter, calling the one-month order shuttering bars and restaurants as "arbitrary."

"The governor won't tell us what data he uses as a metric, is it percentage positive? Is it hospitalization? ICU Capacity? What matters, when he is measuring?" Senator Benson said. "If Minnesotans know it is the percentage positive or hospitalizations or some other number, Minnesotans, I believe will help work on reducing stress on our healthcare system and keeping businesses open."

She said she believes a better alternative would be to let everyone operate with caution and deal with COVID cases in businesses as they arise.

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The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce applauded lawmakers' efforts to work on a COVID relief package that would help businesses, and they too added in a statement that "Employers have worked diligently to mitigate community spread... Businesses stand ready to safely reopen and we urge Governor Walz to end the pause as planned."

"So if a business has been following all the guidelines, and they're not part of an outbreak, why shouldn't they be able to stay open following the guidelines?" Benson said. "If they're part of an outbreak, they have to review their COVID plan, shutdown for a time, pay for employees to be retrained according to that new plan and then they can open back up."

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When asked what she thought of the COVID relief package the legislature was discussing tonight, she acknowledged that the package is a temporary fix.

"Paying businesses grants does not set them up for a long-term future," Benson said. "Having them open and operating and having some sense of certainty makes it worth while to keep investing your time."

As far as the direction the governor will go this week when it comes to reopening, Senator Benson said she won't speculate.

"I will try to use my influence to say lets open this up and deal with people who are contributing to outbreaks on a case by case basis," she said.

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