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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Paul Anderson (R)

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Memorial Day is a fitting time to take stock in our freedoms

Thursday, May 21, 2020

By Rep. Paul Anderson

With the news being dominated by the coronavirus, please don't forget about this weekend's Memorial Day holiday. In-person services, for the most part, have been cancelled. Others are being recorded and available on-line. Now, more than ever, we need to pause and give thanks for what our veterans fought and died for. We live in the greatest country on earth and owe a huge debt of gratitude to those who went before us.

It's fitting to take stock of the freedoms we have, because in some form or measure, those freedoms are being limited by the measures employed to limit the spread of Covid-19. The freedom of religion comes to mind, along with the freedom to own and operate a business. Originally, these actions were seen as being for the common good, but as time goes by, frustration has mounted. By allowing some businesses to remain open, while others selling the same product are closed, the government is picking winners and losers.

With the governor's latest announcement on May 20, he once again left many disappointed. Requiring bars and restaurants to be open for outside service only beginning June 1 falls far short of what these folks need to have hope of maintaining their businesses. Many locations don't currently have the space to offer outside service and may need to seek city approval in the form of a variance or conditional use permit to operate in this fashion. And for how long? And will they need to invest in outdoor furniture to make this work?

Then, there are the logistics. Imagine someone just getting their meal served and it starts raining. What do they do? Or what if someone needs to use the restroom? Are they going to be allowed to go inside? And even if this type of service works, operating at 50 percent of capacity will make it difficult to show a profit. And that is what these businesses need after going weeks without any cashflow.

The opening of Shady's Tavern in Albany was put on hold when a Stearns County judge issued a temporary restraining order. A large crowd of supporters, estimated at several hundred, was on hand, as well as television crews from the Twin Cities. A hearing on the restraining order was scheduled for May 22 in district court.

Another casualty of the shutdown is movie theatres. They have been shuttered for weeks with no  date mentioned for when they could re-open. The most recent plans announced were called Phase II, with the next phase still calling for them to be closed. It isn't until Phase IV when they would be allowed to re-open. 

The restrictions on churches are also a cause for wonder. They are being limited to ten persons or fewer, either inside or outside. To me, churches would be one of the easiest locations in which to practice social distancing. Folks could be ushered in to their seats and also ushered out to keep an orderly flow and reduce crowding. Even in the next phase of the governor's plan, a limit of 20 is placed on indoor worship. The online services offered by many churches so far have been good, but folks want their churches back and want to be able to worship in them.

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Enjoy the Memorial Day holiday and be safe. And remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.

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