Rural Minnesota business owner calls on governor to fully reopen the state amid coronavirus outbreak

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A rural Minnesota business owner called on Gov. Tim Walz to fully reopen the state, saying “We’ve gone too long.”

Jim 'Red' Knutson, owner of Jim's Ash Trail Store in Orr, Minn., said on “Fox & Friends Weekend” on Sunday that people in the state have been getting laid off due to the coronavirus outbreak and its impact on the economy.

“The mines, they laid off people. The resorts are empty,” Knutson said. “You can't go out camping in Voyageurs National Park. It’s shut down. Are you kidding me?”

“You got a better chance of getting eaten by a timber wolf or a bear than you do catching that virus out there,” he continued.

Since March 16, there have been 640,936 unemployment insurance applicants in Minnesota, according to The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.

Last month, Walz extended Minnesota’s stay-at-home order for another two weeks, to May 18, while loosening some restrictions on retail businesses to allow them to reopen for curbside pickup and deliveries starting May 4.

Walz said bars and restaurants must stay closed except for takeout and delivery. Hair salons can now sell products at curbside, but still may not style hair. Walz said he’s not ready to announce when those businesses might return to normal and that many restrictions will remain in place beyond May 18.

“We've got five months up here to make a living,” Knutson said on Sunday. “A year ago we were rocking and rolling up here.”

“The United States had the best economy going. The jobs, we couldn't get enough people. President Trump had the best economy going, as a matter of fact, in the world,” he continued.


He noted that “our paper mills were going strong. All our resorts down here were full, the store was full. We had people going up fishing. We had camping going on. It was unbelievable.”

“And all of sudden here it comes. Here comes the old Chinese virus. Here it comes. And they shut us down,” he added.

Knutson said the economy needs to reopen in Minnesota because now everyone is getting laid off.

“We're strong. We're Minnesota strong. We're smart people. We've been told how we can do this. We've been told. We listen,” he said.

Knutson noted that businesses can adjust to the current environment to open safely.

“I’ve got plexiglass up,” he said. “We can do this. We can open up this country. We can open up this state and we can do it the safe way, but we need to get it open.”

“We need our governor down here to realize that these people up here, including myself, we've got everything tied up in these businesses,” he continued. “We got our heart and soul and all our life in these. If we go down what’s going to happen?”


Minnesota reported more than 10,700 coronavirus cases and 558 deaths, according to data compiled by Fox News.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.