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Demonstrators stage drive-by protest after stay-at-home order extension

Several protesters we spoke with said they owned or were employed by small businesses that were forced to shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

ST PAUL, Minn. — Protesters staged a vehicle-based demonstration against the latest stay-at-home order extension by Governor Tim Walz outside the Minnesota State Capitol in St. Paul Saturday afternoon. 

A few hundred protesters, mostly in cars and trucks, honked their horns in protest as they encircled the capitol days after Gov. Walz extended Minnesota's Stay-At-Home Order to May 18.

All of the protesting and honking lasted just several hours, but the demonstration echos others taking place around the country. Demonstrators who were willing to speak with us on the ground seemed to strike a relatively diplomatic position. "We just want to get back to work, when it's safe of course. We want schools to reopen in the fall hopefully and just get back to work like a lot of people," said one woman.

Several protesters we spoke with said they owned or were employed by small businesses that were forced to shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"What I'm here for is pleading for the common man who is not sure or the person who is more on the fence - because I think there's a lot more people in the middle than on either extreme," another man said.  

Hours before the protest, Governor Walz tweeted saying, "We've made meaningful progress in the fight against COVID-19, but we all need to continue to slow the spread of this virus. That means: wear cloth masks, maintain social distance and stay home if you can."

A separate, smaller demonstration nearby was helmed by local medical workers, clad in their scrubs and protective face gear, hoping to get their message out as well.

Both rallies were entirely peaceful in their conduct. 

Despite the Governor's stay-at-home extension to May 18, efforts have been taken by the Walz Administration to alleviate some of the economic impacts of COVID-19 by kick-starting aspects of the local economy as safely as possible - and some restrictions across the state have slowly been eased.  Some non-essential business operations have slowly been allowed to re-open in a phased approach.

RELATED: Minnesota retailers prepare for curbside pickup

RELATED: Walz extends Stay at Home order to May 18, loosens restrictions for retail

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The state of Minnesota has set up a hotline for general questions about coronavirus at 651-201-3920 or 1-800-657-3903, available 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

There is also a data portal online at mn.gov/covid19.