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Opponents To Stay-At-Home Orders Rally For Immediate Reopening Of Business

Emily Means
Andrea and Daniel Breitenstein of Lehi displayed an American Revolutionary War flag during Saturday’s protest of Utah’s business closure policies.";s:

Hundreds of people gathered at the Salt Lake City and County Building Saturday protesting local and state policies that have shut down non-essential businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Organizers of the Utah Business Revival rally encouraged families and friends to bring dinner from a local restaurant for a picnic and asked people to keep seven feet apart. Most of the hundreds of participants though were in close proximity to each other as they chanted and cheered for Utah businesses to reopen immediately. 

Andrea Breitenstein and her family came from Lehi to attend. She wore a face mask and carried an American flag. Breitenstein is immunocompromised, but she said the government has taken a heavy-handed approach to curbing the outbreak.

“It’s not necessary to choke the whole economy over this,” Breitenstein said. “It’s completely unreasonable.”

She calls herself a constitutional conservative, and individualrights alsotook center stage at the protest. People held “Don’t Tread on Me” flags, a man read the Bill of Rights over a megaphone and drivers of passing vehicles honked and played patriotic music.

Ammon Bundy, the Idaho rancher who led the 2016 Malheur Wildlife Refuge takeover, was also in attendance. He handed out pocket copies of the U.S. Constitution and said he came to support Utahns exercising their rights. 

“It’s completely inappropriate to order free people around,” said Bundy. “If it was a guideline, I would applaud it, but it's not, it's an order.”

Salt Lake County’s public health order prohibits gatherings of any size, and a violation of the order can result in a Class B misdemeanor. Det. Greg Wilking of the Salt Lake City Police said the department has taken an educational approach to the order, and police took no action at the rally. 

“We’re not really looking to go out there and enforce a law on individuals just on the chance that they might be not adhering to it,” Wilking said.

Similar demonstrations have been held in St. George and across the country. Gov. Gary Herbert recently announced a plan to allow somebusinesses to reopen by early May.

Emily Means is a government and politics reporter at KUER.
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