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What you need to know about Minnesota’s revised stay-at-home order

Gov. Tim Walz
MinnPost photo by Peter Callaghan
Gov. Tim Walz
Gov. Tim Walz has ordered Minnesotans to stay home until May 4, extending his restrictions on public life by more than three weeks in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Trips for groceries, medical help and other essential services are still allowed — as they were in the initial order that was set to expire on Friday. But the clamp-down on business that has driven more than 367,000 people to apply for unemployment benefits will remain in place. 

State health officials say Minnesota’s social distancing rules have successfully prevented COVID-19 from overwhelming the health care system. Minnesota has among the fewest deaths of any state. Yet Walz said Wednesday that hospitals are still building up supplies of protective equipment, ventilators and intensive care beds that are critical to handling any spike in coronavirus cases.

“We cannot rest easy,” Walz said, speaking from the State Emergency Operations Center in St. Paul. “This thing can explode overnight if you don’t take the proper precautions.”

Walz said his decision was based on updated state modeling, trouble getting masks and ventilators, as well as federal guidance encouraging social distancing practices until May 1. With continued social distancing, the peak of COVID-19 cases is expected to come in July, Walz said. If Minnesota were to ease restrictions some, that peak “would come rushing back at us.”

The governor has made some changes to his restrictions. For one, Walz asked state officials to develop short-term plans to help some businesses reopen with best social distancing practices. But he said the state needs to sustain its efforts. “It could all go sideways very quickly if we don’t continue,” Walz said.

Here’s what we know about the order:

How long will the stay-at-home order last?

The state order was originally set to expire Friday at 5 p.m., but the new order will go into effect  Wednesday at 11:59 p.m. and will last until Sunday, May 3 at 11:59 p.m. An earlier order closing bars and dining rooms at restaurants that would have expired May 1 was also extended until May 4.

State of Minnesota
What counts as an essential business?

Walz’s list of essential workers may expand as the state adds exemptions to the stay-home order. But, broadly, essential jobs and services still include:

  • Health care workers
  • Law enforcement and first responders
  • Emergency shelters
  • Child care facilities
  • Grocery stores, take-out restaurant service, farmers and other agriculture workers
  • News organizations
  • Power, gas and water services
  • Wastewater treatment and other sanitation or public works
  • Critical manufacturing, such as iron ore mining
  • Transportation and logistics
  • Construction and some trades, such as electricians, plumbers and elevator technicians
  • Financial services, including workers at banks

Further guidance can be found on the state’s website.

What has changed since the last order?

Walz asked his agency commissioners to develop plans to help some industries reopen while following health guidance to prevent the spread of disease. Walz said Minnesota has learned more about how the disease spreads and believes his administration can be more “scalpel-like” in how it approaches who can stay open and who cannot.

The governor said they have also clarified some essential basic operations of businesses that may continue, such as going into an office to manage inventory. Restrictions on lawn care, landscaping, agricultural equipment repair, garden centers and florists selling perishable plants were also loosened. Walz said businesses can mow golf courses if they adhere to social distancing rules.

The order also explicitly allows funeral services with 10 or fewer attendees if people follow CDC guidance on social distancing “to the maximum extent possible.”

How will this be enforced?

Walz has repeatedly said he wants to avoid using law enforcement to issue citations or intervene to force people to comply with his state at home order. The state has leaned on a strategy of educating people and hoping they voluntarily follow the rules. Violating the order for most people is considered a misdemeanor that carries a punishment of either 90 days in jail or a fine of up to $1,000. 

The latest executive order creates new penalties, however. Business owners, managers and supervisors who require or encourage employees to violate the rules face a gross misdemeanor that carries a maximum penalty of $3,000 or one year in prison. 

The order also allows the state Attorney General, as well as city and county attorneys, to take civil action against people or businesses who violate the order. Such a penalty could carry a $25,000 penalty.

Attorney General Keith Ellison said he would use his office’s “full enforcement power” to ensure that businesses not exempted from the stay-home order will comply. “Continuing to stay home is how we care for each other,” Ellison said in a statement.

How are other state leaders responding?

House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, said, “It’s encouraging that Governor Walz has granted flexibility for several types of businesses, and that plans are being developed for more.”

“We hope as this stay-at-home order continues, the governor will continue evaluating requests and allow businesses to reopen if they can do so safely,” Daudt said. “The sooner we can let more Minnesotans safely return to work, the sooner we can start stabilizing our economy.”

Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-East Gull Lake, said the eased restrictions on some businesses is “welcome news, even as the stay-at-home order is extended.”

House Speaker Melissa Hortman, DFL-Brooklyn Park, said the Walz administration has “done an  excellent job following the data and making strong decisions to protect Minnesotans.”

Can I still go outside?

Outdoor exercise is still allowed and encouraged, though state leaders are asking people to avoid gathering in groups and to use parks or outdoor spaces close to your home. “We’re encouraging people to get out, stay healthy,” Walz said. “But don’t drive up north and overrun Mille Lacs.”

You can also leave your house to get food, including take-out, alcohol, gasoline, work-from-home supplies, materials to make masks and other protective equipment, and products needed to maintain safety, sanitation and the general operation of your house, bike, vehicle, or business. Laundromats and dry cleaners remain open.

Leaving your home to care for family members, friends, or pets is also allowed.

Comments (10)

  1. Submitted by BK Anderson on 04/09/2020 - 08:33 am.

    Thanks, excellent article.

    We await the fury of the golfers!

  2. Submitted by joe smith on 04/09/2020 - 08:50 am.

    If you are over 65 with underlying health issues, stay at home, the rest of our population should be making plans to get back to normal. If you have found out one thing about this virus, it is, the vast majority will have zero to minimal symptoms. The CDC has been way too liberal in its claims of Coronavirus being the cause of death. If a person with chronic pulmonary disease gets in an accident, suffers a collapsed lung, goes to the hospital and dies 3 days later tests positive for Coronavirus, he goes down as a COVID 19 death. Check out how the insurance money goes up, for your hospital stay, if you test positive to Coronavirus.
    The original panic of “everyone will get this disease and millions will die in the USA” is now being revised to 200,000 will die. Unfortunately, most will be older with multiple pre-existing conditions. All of our resources should be tilted towards those folks with a eye towards getting back to normal.
    As many have stated, it takes no skill or leadership to close beaches and businesses, it takes leadership to grow businesses. The test won’t be who can hide in their bedroom the most efficiently but who can survive and thrive after this scare goes away.

    • Submitted by T.W. Day on 04/09/2020 - 10:57 am.

      The problem with being a nation of 95% scientific illiterates is that when something like the stay-at-home order does what it is supposed to do, so many people say ridiculous things like, the “CDC has been way too liberal in its claims of Coronavirus being the cause of death.” I don’t think there is going to be a fix for our march toward an idiocracy. If you stretch your memory to its maximum capacity, you might remember that the Head Idiot claimed, “No. Not at all. And we have it totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China, and we have it under control. It’s going to be just fine.” (1/22/2020) A week later, he said, ““We have it very well under control. We have very little problem in this country at this moment — five. And those people are all recuperating successfully.” (1/30/2020) Now, we’re supposed to be happy that only “200,000 will die.” And that irrational history is being successfully sold the the Fearless Leader’s faithful minions.

      There might be “many” who say it doesn’t take leadership to try to mitigate a national security disaster, but those would be the same fools who constantly repeat lies and fantasy about how much better our leadership is now than it was under President Obama.

      • Submitted by joe smith on 04/09/2020 - 11:54 am.

        T.W., definitely a crisis for those over 65 with underlying health issues, not so much for everyone else. The game of who can hide in their house more expertly will stop, life must go on. Always amazed at the sheep mentality in 2020. As more data comes out on Coronavirus, cities and states will have to figure out how to get back to normal. Flattening the curve made sense when projections were millions would die. After a month of scaring everyone to death, 39 Minnesotans have died and less than 15,000 nationally. The deaths are of older folks with underlying health symptoms.
        After the tornado passes most folks come out from their basement. I wonder when folks will decide it is safe to come out? I guess we will wait until an official tells us “it’s ok now, you may leave your home”. Not my idea of freedom.

        • Submitted by S.C. M on 04/11/2020 - 04:41 pm.

          And I read that 80k have died so far in the US from influenza & pneumonia non-covid related. SMD, You don’t see Countries losing their minds over those deaths. This is another flu that is more contagious so some people will miss work and feel like crap 💩. But the rest of life would have gone forward. I know more people who are out of jobs that are permanently gone. Not one person who even knows anyone who has covid. For the most part Americans are clean people. It’s the sick and elderly who suffer and die from different strains of flu 99% of the time. People who are younger just feel like crap for a few weeks, if they feel any different at all. Italy is at the top of the curve because it is mostly elderly people who live there with a poor health system. #EndLockdownMN

    • Submitted by Betsy Larey on 04/09/2020 - 11:16 am.

      Great reply and thank you. I am an LPGA Golf Professional. I am staying in Florida, where the courses are still open. They are open because it is the one sport that is, by it’s nature, a separator of people. And our Governor actually cares whether businesses than can open and operate safely are allowed to do so. And stay in business!!
      And in the same breath Walz says its okay for people to walk on courses. In which case, those people will be a lot closer than if they were playing golf.
      This would be pretty funny if it not were for the fact that 25,000 people work in the golf industry, and the industry has a 2.3 Billion dollar footprint. Not to mention millions of dollars in real estate taxes and sales and income taxes as well. What this very well may do is force a number of courses to close. As in permanently. It’s a seasonal sport
      And lets take a look at the winners and losers of the latest stay at home order. Fishing for instance. The fishing opener is still on. How crowded do you think the boat launches will be? And do you think there will be one person per boat? Big doubts.
      Do you think politics played any role in this decision? Of course it did. If he banned the fishing opener/boat launches, he would probably lose a lot of votes at reelection time. Many think of elite country clubs when they think of golf. Those people tend to vote Republican. I know that’s probably true. However, the majority of golfers ( by far ) are public course players who vote both ways.
      Salons/barbers continue to stay closed. If you have your own shop, that means you have one client. Of which you both can wear a mask. Which is safer, getting your haircut by one person or going to the grocery store with hundreds of other people? Another loser that didn’t have to shutter in place.
      And restaurants are allowed to continue to produce food. Those tight kitchen quarters are not exactly practicing social distancing. 1/2 winner 1/2 loser.
      So unfortunately the state of Minnesota, once again, picks the winners and the losers. I’m not surprised, as much as I am disappointed. Here’s looking at you from a distance St Paul, hope to get back soon!

    • Submitted by S.C. M on 04/11/2020 - 04:33 pm.

      I agree. whole heartedly. This is going to be a mess to get ramped up again. Small landlords are loosing about 25% of their tenants. It will be hard to rent them out because technically your not even supposed to be engaging in that type of contact. 2nd-ly, the renter needs to have a job to be able to rent. Small family owned Gas stations need to afford to buy gas to pay for being open to hire people to run the store. If people are going no where then they don’t need gas. I have spent $10 1/4 tank on gas in the last month where normally it would be 1 tank a week. $80 a month. And here I am paying car insurance to not drive. And women won’t go to the nail and hair salons if they have no money and then the nail/hair salon technicians won’t have money so they can’t pay the rent. Basically the majority of the Lower to Middle Class will need to start over. But with businesses shuttering for good because they can’t get loans, Wells Fargo, US Bank, they are not loaning that money to truly small businesses such as realtors, the good ones have teams. And corner grocery stores, or cabinet installers. Even when we get going the fallout will continue much longer than the Coronavirus affects us. 80,000 people have died of pneumonia & flu this year already in the USA. There have not been a quarter of that which has died of covid in the US. They “F’d” up and are to afraid to admit it so they keep saying deaths will peak in a couple weeks. Minnesota is saying Mid-July. I tell ya, I am not staying indoors for 3 more months. I will go mow rich peoples lawns at. discount if I have to. People have bills to pay and the failure of any money coming to the regular person is what the real disaster is!!!

  3. Submitted by Neal Krasnoff on 04/09/2020 - 07:12 pm.

    Though I didn’t vote for him, Governor Walz appears to be doing a good job.

  4. Submitted by Bernadette Janisch on 04/12/2020 - 06:51 am.

    Thanks for including the chart. Do you know if anyone has published a similar one comparing countries by a per capita measure of cases or deaths?

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