Roseau residents protest Walz order that closed businesses
ROSEAU, Minn – Business owners and their supporters protested Friday, May 15, to send a message to Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz that they are unhappy with the closure of the state’s small businesses during the coronavirus pandemic.
Sign-carrying protesters gathered late in the afternoon on Friday, May 15, at the Roseau City Center, and walked down Main Street.
Cheri Losse, owner of Transfers Unlimited, a Roseau screen printing and embroidery business that also sells clothes, called it a “double standard” that Walz orders small businesses to close – and, at the same time, allows big box stores to be open.
“That’s why we’re so upset,” Losse said in a telephone interview with the Herald.
“There are four clothing stores in Roseau, and we’re all shut down," said Losse, who has been marketing her clothes, below cost, on Facebook during the past several weeks so she had income to pay her bills.
Meanwhile, Roseau residents have been traveling to Thief River Falls and Grand Forks to buy clothes and go to hair salons, Losse said. The salons in Roseau have only one chair in them, she noted.
“How can that not be safe?” she asked.
Restaurants and bars in Roseau also have taken a big financial hit during the two-month closure, Losse said.
“The businesses are hurting. We have a big hole to dig out of,” she said.
Duane Espe, 78, also was at the protest. The owner of Espe’s Barber Shop has cut hair in Roseau for 56 years and the shutdown of his shop has been difficult for his him and for his customers.
On Monday, May 4, Espe was given the go-ahead by the Minnesota State Barber Board, to re-open his shop, provided he followed certain protocol, he said in a telephone interview with the Herald.
He did 38 haircuts during the week of May 4, following all of the recommendations of the board person with whom he spoke, Espe said. That included spacing his barber chairs 6 feet apart, having only one customer in the shop at a time and wearing a mask. He also had masks --- his wife sewed 200 -- available to his customers.
When Espe opened Monday, May 11, for another week of business, a Roseau police officer came to his shop and told him that he had to shut it down, and the fine for violating that order would be $1,000, Espe said.
He has since been closed.
“It’s been really hard because I have great clientele and it’s hard to turn them down,” Espe said.
The aim of the Friday protest was to show support for the businesses and let Walz know they believed they should be open.
“We’re so upset with the governor. He thinks we’re rocks and cows up here,” Losse said.