Kyle Brown and Ashley Zilka
Updated: December 16, 2020 08:56 AM
Created: December 16, 2020 06:35 AM
A group of roughly 150 businesses across Minnesota are planning to reopen this week in defiance of Gov. Tim Walz's restrictions on restaurants, fitness centers and entertainment venues meant to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
On Tuesday night, the Facebook group ReOpen MN Coalition released a list of businesses the group claims signed a pact to open their doors. Several of the signees remained anonymous but are "advertising within their local community."
The plan is set to go in motion the same day Walz is expected to announce an extension on the state's in-person dining ban. The fate of fitness centers and indoor entertainment venues is still uncertain.
State officials have insisted these businesses are high risks for community spread of COVID-19, but the group disagrees.
"Every affected group, from restaurants to gyms to schools to youth sports have the data laid out clearly showing that none of Walz's ongoing lockdowns make any sense, and in a just world would be considered worthy of criminal charges," a post from the Facebook group stated on Tuesday.
At least one business is disputing its listing with ReOpen MN. In a statement, the group said "we have heard from a handful who have either changed their minds or didn't realize what they were committing to."
Some of the affiliated businesses have said they will wait until later in the week to reopen, but not Lisa Monet Zarza, the owner of Alibi Drinkery in Lakeville. She told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS she plans to reopen her business at 11 a.m. Wednesday.
Zarza said she was willing to comply with the initial shutdowns earlier this year, but now it's a different story.
"It's not, 'Come to Alibi Drinkery.' Its 'Fight for every small business owner in Minnesota that is fighting back and stand behind them and show them your support in any way that you can," she said.
The state has already started to crack down on businesses defying the governor's executive order.
On Friday, Attorney General Keith Ellison's office filed a temporary restraining order against Boardwalk Bar and Grill, which had continued in-person dining service despite state restrictions. The Department of Public Safety suspended the bar's liquor license days later.
Haven's Garden, a Lynd restaurant that violated the Minnesota Department of Health's cease and desist order to stop dine-in service, was sued on Friday. The MDH also announced it had revoked the license of Iron Waffle restaurant in Nisswa, which it claims had repeatedly failed to comply with COVID-19 restrictions and had already been fined $9,500.
In a statement, Ellison said only a handful of Minnesota businesses were planning on reopening and that he gets "no happiness out of enforcing the order, but my duty to protect Minnesotans from the deadliest global pandemic in a century demands it."
Walz is scheduled to announce the full details on which restrictions will continue during a news conference at 1:15 p.m. Wednesday.
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