Brainerd Lakes Area city passes a resolution allowing businesses to reopen if they so choose

The City Council passed a resolution modeled after the one a southern Minnesota city passed last week.
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The city of Pequot Lakes, in the Brainerd Lakes area, has declared itself a "constitutional and business-friendly community," allowing businesses to reopen despite Gov. Tim Walz's executive orders so long as they follow guidelines from health officials.

The Pequot Lakes City Council on March 12 voted 4-1 to pass the resolution, the Pine and Lakes Echo Journal reports.

At the May 5 City Council meeting, the Council requested a special City Council meeting, held via Zoom, on May 12 to consider a resolution similar to the one the city of Lakefield adopted on May 4, according to City Council documents.

According to a copy of the proposed resolution on the city's website, the resolution states that the City Council supports the choice of all residents to stay at home or to move about the city freely and support the economy of Pequot Lakes. 

The resolution also encourages people to follow the Minnesota Department of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for social distancing and advises long-term care facilities to restrict visitors and regularly check workers and residents for COVID-19 symptoms.

Walz is expected to make an announcement on Wednesday evening regarding extending the stay-at-home order and business closures beyond May 18.

Pushing back against orders

The Pequot Lakes and Lakefield resolutions come as some people have protested the state's stay-at-home order and businesses have defied the governor's orders that limit what businesses can be open and how they can serve customers.

One example is a barbershop in St. Paul that reopened despite being ordered closed. The owner calling it an "unjust law" that is putting his business on the brink of closing for good. It has been reported the shop has since been shut down by the state.

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Last week Walz expressed empathy for frustrated business owners – many of whom are on the verge of closing for good – but said Minnesota's efforts to keep flattening the curve during the COVID-19 outbreak "is going to take social compliance."

"In every society, you've got to have an orderly way to do this," the governor said, adding that people who decide that "we're going to go and do whatever we want to do" puts Minnesota "at risk."

According to Executive Order 20-48, which extended the stay-at-home order to May 18, it's a misdemeanor for workers who willfully violate the order, which could result in a $1,000 fine and/or 90 days in jail if they're convicted. The punishment is greater for business owners and managers who require or encourage a worker to violate the order. In that case, it's a gross misdemeanor that could result in a fine of up to $3,000 and/or a year in jail. Violators could also face civil penalties.

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