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State lawmaker joins Stay-at-Home order protest outside governor's mansion

Hundreds of protesters attended, with many ignoring social distancing guidelines.

A state lawmaker was among hundreds of Minnesotans who protested against Governor Tim Walz's Stay-at-Home coronavirus order on Friday.

The "Liberate Minnesota" protest started outside the Governor's Mansion on Summit Avenue at noon, with pictures showing the majority of those in attendance ignoring social distancing guidelines that advise people to stay 6 feet away from others to prevent the spread of COVID-19, as well as contravening state rules banning large gatherings.

They are calling for Gov. Walz to re-open the state's economy, with the governor having shut down non-essential businesses in late March, following the closure of schools and dine-in service at restaurants and bars a week earlier.

Among those taking part in the protest was State Rep. Jeremy Munson (R-Lake Crystal), a member of the four-man New Republican Caucus which has been vocal in its opposition to Gov. Walz's order.

In a post on Facebook, Rep. Munson repeated President Donald Trump's Friday tweet to "Liberate Minnesota," and posted pictures he took at the site of the protest.

Also in attendance was Jason Lewis, the former 2nd District Congressman who is running for U.S. Senate against Tina Smith, and who was out shaking hands with protesters.

The protest took place on a day in which Minnesota posted single-day highs in coronavirus deaths with 17, as well as a 24-hour high in new cases with 159, bringing the state's total number of confirmed cases above 2,000, albeit more than half of whom have recovered.

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Gov. Walz has said he's eager to reopen the economy, but will only do so when the risk to Minnesotans can be minimized through expanded testing and a sufficient supply of protective equipment for the state's healthcare workers.

He nonetheless announced an hour before the protest was due to start that he was loosening the Stay at Home order to allow outdoor recreation businesses including golf courses, marinas, and gun ranges to reopen provided social distancing rules are in place.

The economic toll of the coronavirus shutdowns has been severe, with the latest figures from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development showing that almost one in five workers have lost jobs, been furloughed or had their hours reduced in the past 6 weeks,

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