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Coronavirus In Minnesota: Struggling Small Businesses Band Together To Sue Gov. Tim Walz

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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Another round of Minnesotans will learn Thursday when they're going back to work.

That's when Gov. Tim Walz is expected to announce an update to the stay-at-home order, as well as which industries can reopen. The statewide order is set to expire May 4.

Larger stores like Best Buy and HOM Furniture are already getting ready to reopen for scheduled appointments, but smaller businesses are wondering when their turn will come.

READ MORE: Mom-And-Pop Businesses In MN Struggling To Survive Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

A fighting chance is what Title Boxing's owners in Arden Hill's are asking for. It's been closed for weeks, just like Yoga by Blisstopia in Blaine, and several more small businesses that are now part of a lawsuit against the governor. They're demanding he lift the order that's keeping their doors shut while others thrive. Dan McGrath is a spokesperson for the plaintiffs.

"It's for everyone that owns a small business in the state of Minnesota and is wondering why can't I sell Nike's at my store but Walmart down the road can still sell the same shoes there? I'm only gonna have a couple customers in my store at a time, Walmart's got 500 in there at a time. Why can't I be open," McGrath said.

State officials wouldn't comment directly on the lawsuit, but acknowledged the difficulties small businesses are facing. Steve Grove, commissioner of the Department of Employment and Economic Development, said the governor's executive orders on which businesses are essential and when others should open up is based on data and national guidance.

"We've got to continue to look at these issues very closely, looking for ways that we can start to open up in a thoughtful way. And I think, you know, we're talking to small businesses across the state to get that right," Grove said.

READ MORE: Businesses Having Tough Conversations About How To Stay Afloat

Some companies that are already open are rolling back their restrictions. Best Buy is now offering appointment-based shopping in-store instead of just curbside pick-up. HOM Furniture opened its showrooms, but also just for appointments. It will limit how many customers are allowed inside to ensure social distance.

Changes to keep shoppers and staff safe from COVID-19 are part of the new normal, as Gov. Walz turns the dial on reopening the economy.

Some outdoor recreation and landscaping businesses were part of the first wave earlier this month, then office and industrial settings. Even with another round expected to be announced Thursday, those who are suing the governor say it's not enough.

"The day that everyone can conduct commerce the way that they wish, freely within the laws of the land, is the day that we will withdraw the lawsuit," McGrath said. "We can mitigate the risks of COVID-19 pandemic without infringing the rights of our people or destroying the back bone of our economy, which is our small businesses."

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