For the better part of eight weeks, our area residents and businesses have done what has been asked of them. They have flattened the curve and allowed time for our healthcare system to ramp up their preparedness for the occurrence of positive covid-19 cases. This was the original goal. Our healthcare system in Minnesota has not been overrun and appears to have greatly decreased that concern.

It is now time to stop moving the goal post. Gov. Tim Walz said on April 13, “Give me 5,000 tests a day – then I'll open things back up.”

Well, we have now reached that level.

What the governor has done by shutting down our economy is without a doubt unsustainable, and to date, has proven to be very detrimental to the well being of our state and local communities.

At some point in time, we have to face the reality that we cannot pit life against livelihood. They are intertwined and both depend on each other, just as employees depend on business and government revenue is dependent on both. You can't have one without the other.

Republicans trust that our citizens will continue to protect our vulnerable populations through social distance protocols and isolation of our senior congregate and nursing home facilities from the public as supported by Centers for Disease Control and Minnesota Department of Health guidelines. We trust that our local businesses will be responsible in how they execute any new guidelines to protect their customers.

It is time to end the heavy hand of the governor's stay-at-home order and move back to a more voluntary model of social distancing.

No longer should peoples' constitutional right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness be infringed upon by government.

It is one thing to voluntarily ask citizens to do their part for protection of a vulnerable subset of society, but it is quite another thing to force it upon citizens when it causes irreparable damage to their life savings, their families' livelihood and the prosperity of future generations.

Then there is the question of constitutionality. Please explain how it is equal application of the law to allow large box stores to be open when small ma-and-pa businesses that offer the same or similar products have to be shuttered. Take a look at how busy and crowded the big box stores have been with very little issues. How then can one justify keeping small businesses closed?

This is likely a violation of the 14th Amendment, which states, “No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens in the United States: nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without the due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

There are three problems here: unjust taking, due process and equal protection violations.

All business owners should have the same opportunity as every other business – that is called equal protection of the laws. What is essential to you and I may not be essential to another. People in this country should be free to make decisions about their risk tolerance without Big Brother making that decision for them.

Editor’s note: Both the Hubbard County DFL and Hubbard County Republicans are invited to write columns for the Enterprise’s Opinion page.