(The Center Square) – After 61 days of forced closure, a Farmington business says it will open on Monday, May 18, when the current stay-home order expires, with or without the government’s approval.
Tim Struck is a co-owner of Crossfit Calypso, who held a small rally outside the Farmington city building on Monday evening.
“The Governor’s decisions are arbitrary,” Struck said in a Facebook video. “He opened up a candy store on Friday. There’s no reason any Farmington small business cannot open up their doors and be safer and keep their customers as safe as any big-box retailer.”
Struck said customers should be able to decide where they feel safe shopping.
“Small business owners shouldn’t be afraid to go to work to make an honest living,” Struck said.
“We hope you stand behind us and all the other businesses that also decide to open up on May 18, against the Governor’s unconstitutional orders,” he said. “That being said, we do strongly suggest business owners take necessary precautions to keep their customers safe.”
In a Monday work session, other members shot down a proposed resolution in support of opening businesses that followed recommended safety guidelines, Farmington City Council member Joshua Hoyt told The Center Square.
Hoyt noted there wasn't an official vote on the resolution, which asked Gov. Tim Walz to apply an individualized approach when allowing the opening of businesses rather than a one-size-fits-all approach.
“I stand with our businesses and the choices they need to make to support their families and their livelihood,” Hoyt said.
Hoyt pointed out a double standard that big box stores were allowed to open while following state and federal safety guidelines, but small businesses weren’t.
“There’s no reason that they can’t take those guidelines and find ways... to apply best practices in their own buildings,” Hoyt said.
Large retail stores attract larger crowds than small businesses do, he said.
“I can go to Home Depot, and I am by far at a higher risk from their lack of preparedness and my exposure than all of our local businesses in Downtown Farmington combined," Hoyt said.
Hoyt's not alone in challenging the governor.
The GOP-led Senate on Monday passed Senate File 4511, which aims to allow small businesses closed by executive orders to reopen if they adhere to safety guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Minnesota Department of Health.
Senate Minority Leader Susan Kent, DFL-Woodbury, opposed the bill, saying that COVID-19 was a new virus and that it will take time to open up businesses safely.
“We need to make sure we’re doing this in a way that’s thoughtful,” Kent said. “Because it will not help our economy if we jump the gun and if we have to … completely lockdown again the way we are.”
The DFL-controlled House isn’t likely to pass the bill.
Republicans argued small businesses need more revenue than curbside sales to pay rent, fixed expenses, and survive.
“This isn’t just about the severity of the virus – we know it’s serious,” Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R- East Gull Lake, said in a statement.
“We also have more than 600,000 people on unemployment – I’m worried about folks not having jobs to come back to. I think it’s time the governor of Minnesota let the people go. Let them go to retail stores, restaurants, and church, and let them practice safe social distancing.”