Commissioners urge governor to reopen all businesses
Rock County Commissioners unanimously approved a resolution urging Minnesota Governor Tim Walz to allow all Rock County businesses to reopen.
At their Tuesday morning Zoom meeting, commissioners indicated in the resolution the “inequity in the closure of some businesses and the reduction in operations of others has created much economic hardship across Rock County and throughout Minnesota.”
Local units of government cannot override or subvert state orders to allow businesses to reopen on county authority.
In order to control the spread of the coronavirus, Gov. Walz used his executive powers to close schools and non-essential businesses in March.
This week Gov. Walz lifted restrictions on some businesses and government offices to once again conduct in-person transactions. Each entity had to have plans in place to protect the health of workers and customers along with more stringent disinfecting measures prior to the reopening.
However, restaurants, hair salons and small non-essential retailers are yet to receive directives to reopen.
The resolution further stated, “The closure and reduced operations of many Rock County businesses has resulted in lost economic activity and encouraged residents to do their business in neighboring states where businesses are reopening faster.”
The commissioners also encouraged the governor to work with state senators and representatives to pass legislation to disperse a portion of the $2.2 billion the state received from the federal government to cover expenses created by COVID-19.
“Holding the money in St. Paul does absolutely no good to anyone,” said Commissioner Greg Burger.
Departments open by appointment only
Several county offices, including the Department of Motor Vehicles, have reopened to in-person transactions, provided individuals make appointments first.
Appointments can be made by calling the county office or visiting the county’s website www.co.rock.mn.us.
The Rock County Library, auditor/treasurer and land records offices are each using the “No Waiting Inside” software to limit the number of people inside the library and courthouse.
The software works through messaging on an individual’s cell phone where they alert the county office when they arrive at their appointed time.
A reply provides instructions for the person to enter the building and complete the in-person transaction.
“We’ve implemented our rules and some state rules in order to operate safely,” said County Administrator Kyle Oldre.