More than 150 Minnesota businesses vow to defy governor's shutdown order

More than 150 Minnesota businesses vow to defy governor's shutdown order
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A coalition of small-business owners in Minnesota say they plan to reopen early, before an order from the state's governor to stay closed expires. 

Gov. Tim WalzTim WalzHalf of states now restrict conversion therapy for LGBTQ kids Minnesota state lawmaker facing calls to resign following domestic violence, indecent exposure allegations Minnesota governor signs executive order restricting conversion therapy MORE (D) signed an executive order last month closing bars and restaurants in an effort to curb the number of coronavirus cases in the state. The order is set to expire Friday, but a group of approximately 160 businesses has banded together, urging one another to reopen early, some as soon as Wednesday. 

"The financial part of it sucks," Lisa Monet Zarza, who owns a bar in Lakeville, told the Star Tribune. "But it's more than just that. We donate catering, support youth sports, the police and the Rotary. It's hurting the fabric of the community."

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A Facebook page for the "ReOpen Minnesota Coalition" posted a sign-up sheet late Tuesday with dozens of businesses listed. 

"Thank you all for your support of these brave businesses, from positive social media reviews to driving out and giving them your business," the coalition said in an earlier post. "The reports of large crowds, few detractors, and big tips are flowing in, and it is heartening. We thank God for His small mercies in this dark time. Let us hope and pray that the Governor and Attorney General will discover the concept of mercy and relent in their persecution of these dear people."

In a statement to the newspaper, Minnesota Attorney General Keith EllisonKeith EllisonAttorneys general looking into online fundraising practices Minnesota AG asks judge to acknowledge trauma of children who witnessed Floyd's death Sunday shows preview: Moderates, Biden reach deal on infrastructure; Chauvin sentenced to 22.5 years in prison MORE (D) said any business that opens prematurely could be prosecuted for acting in a way he characterized as selfish. 

"I get no happiness out of enforcing the order, but my duty to protect Minnesotans from the deadliest global pandemic in a century demands it," Ellison said.

"It's not fair to the vast majority of businesses who are doing their part to stop the spread of COVID-19 and are complying with the executive order to let a handful who chose not to compete unfairly with them," he said.

Richard Dobransky, who owns nearly a dozen restaurants in the state, argued the short-term gain for the business who wish to open early is not worth the long-term public health consequence.  

"Why risk your license for short-term gain? So they make $400 in two days and then they have to close forever?" Dobransky said in an interview with the Star-Tribune. "We've all been hurt tremendously. Let's hunker down and reopen the best way."