Democrat Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz has loosened some of his crushing coronavirus restrictions, but that is not enough for some business owners in the state including Lisa Monet Zarza, who owns a restaurant and is part of the ReOpen Minnesota Coalition.
“We put our heart and soul into Alibi,” said Lisa Monet Zarza, owner of the Alibi Drinkery restaurant in Lakeland, Minnesota.
“I’ve been in the industry for almost 30 years and this was always my dream to own my own business and to own my own restaurant and it finally came true,” Zarza said.
KARE 11 reported on the pushback across the state:
She’s one of dozens of business owners, mostly bars and restaurants, vowing to reopen as part of the ReOpen Minnesota coalition, nearly four weeks after Gov. Tim Walz announced new statewide COVID-19 restrictions. “We had kind of made the decision that we were going to open and when you start making that known, you start realizing that you are not alone,” she said.
ReOpen Minnesota says most businesses that reopened Wednesday received an overwhelming show of support. The group said in part, “it is so greatly inspiring and life-giving to these dear people that they are not alone.” On Wednesday night, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Alcohol and Gambling Enforcement Division (DPS-AGED) said it would suspend the liquor license at Zarza’s restaurant for 60 days for violating the order. Neighbors on the Rum in Princeton also had its liquor license suspended by DPS-AGED after reopening on Wednesday.
In response to the governor’s update, Hospitality Minnesota said “today’s plea to the Governor is to reconsider his decision to extend the closure. The tide is turning, as we have witnessed all week as more and more businesses are willing out of desperation to risk fines and penalties to save their livelihoods.”
“It’s our staff’s home and it’s a big family and to have that taken away, for something that you don’t understand why,” said Zarza, who also said she would continue to allow indoor dining. “We understand COVID-19 is real and people are dying, but it goes so much more beyond that.”
“I believe people held out hope, that he wasn’t going to do this to us again, and he did,” said Zarza, who earlier laid off 45 employees. “Today’s announcement is going to break down any hope people had.”
Democrat Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison issued a statement Wednesday night warning businesses who choose to violate Gov. Walz’s new restrictions:
“My job and my duty is to protect Minnesotans. People like to ask, what is the Attorney General going to do? What they should be asking is, what is coronavirus going to do? Coronavirus is deadly and it’s continuing to spread: it doesn’t care who you are or where you live, where you work or where you let off steam. You’re not immune from it and your loved ones aren’t either. No one is.
“Our approach from the start has been to win voluntary compliance, and in almost all cases, we’ve been able to do so. To those few businesses that are choosing to openly violate the executive order, I say this is the wrong way to go. I don’t enjoy using the enforcement tools I have, but I will use them to hold violators accountable and keep Minnesotans safe.
“I also want to say to the vast majority of Minnesota businesses that are making sacrifices to comply with the law and keep their customers, employees, and communities safe that I see you and I thank you,” Ellison said. “You deserve our gratitude. You do not deserve unfair competition from those who are not doing their part.”
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