Governor Walz Issues Two-Week Stay At Home Order
To slow the spread of COVID-19 across Minnesota, Gov. Tim Walz signed Executive Order 20-20 directing Minnesotas to stay at home and limit movements outside of their home beyond essential needs. This order takes effect at 11:59 p.m. on Friday, March 27 and ends at 5 p.m. on Friday, April 10.
A model released today by the Minnesota Department of Health and the University of Minnesota predicts that more than 70,000 Minnesotans could die from COVID-19 if we take no action. The governor’s two-week order to stay home is forecasted to significantly slow the spread of COVID-19 and allow the state time to make key preparations for the pandemic.
“Minnesota’s plan is to ensure that every one of our neighbors gets the opportunity, if they need it, to have the medical care that they deserve and we bring them out of this,” Gov. Walz said during a conference call with news media.
“The infections are going to come, but what we are going to stop is a situation where we get overwhelmed. We’re gonna do the best we can to stand that up.”
State agencies will make preparations during this two-week period that include building hospital capacity, increasing access to life-saving equipment like ventilators, increasing testing, planning for how to care for vulnerable populations, and assessing public health data to determine which community mitigation strategies are most effective.
Reasons to leave during the stay at home order
According to a news release sent by Gov. Walz, Minnesotans may leave their residences only to perform any of the following activities, and while doing so, they should practice social distancing:
- Health and safety activities, such as obtaining emergency services or medical supplies
- Outdoor activities, such as walking, hiking, running, biking, hunting, or fishing
- Necessary Supplies and Services, such as getting groceries, gasoline, or carry-out
- Essential and interstate travel, such as returning to a home from outside this state
- Care of others, such as caring for a family member, friend, or pet in another household
- Displacement, such as moving between emergency shelters if you are without a home
- Relocation to ensure safety, such as relocating to a different location if your home has been unsafe due to domestic violence, sanitation, or essential operations reasons
- Tribal activities and lands, such as activities by members within the boundaries of their tribal reservation
If someone leaves their home for reasons other than what’s mentioned above, Gov. Walz said there would be no harsh penalties for people who violate the stay at home order.
“We don’t want them to be arrested, first and foremost. We want to educate people,” Gov. Walz said. “And I know that this requires voluntary social compliance to a large part. We want to educate them, understand… there may be a very valid reason why they’re doing that. We don’t want to assume that there’s not. We certainly would have the ability to [arrest], but I can tell you that we have no desire to do that.”
Critical Sectors exempt from stay at home order
According to the executive order, workers who work in critical sectors during this time are exempt from the stay at home order. These exemptions are based on federal guidance from the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency at the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security, with some Minnesota-specific additions. This includes, but is not limited to, jobs in:
- Healthcare and public health
- Law enforcement, public safety, and first responders
- Emergency shelters, congregate living facilities, drop-in centers
- Child care
- Food and agriculture
- News media
- Water and wastewater
- Critical manufacturing
Liquor stores will also remain open during the stay at home order. “I know it’s one of the things that relieves people, and adults make choices that they need, so those will remain open,” Gov. Walz said.
If Minnesotans are wondering if a job is considered “essential” under the governor’s executive order, Joe Kelly, the director of Minnesota’s Homeland Security and Emergency Management Department, said people can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
According to Steve Grove, the executive director of Minnesota’s Department of Employment and Economic Development, 78 percent of the jobs in Minnesota are considered “critical.” Those that aren’t are places such as bars, restaurants and places of public amusement.
For a more detailed list of critical industries in Minnesota, you can go to www.mn.gov/deed/critical.
“We’ve been weighing the economic impact of this decision, and we know it does effect so many Minnesotans,” Grove said. “Our estimate is that about 28 percent of Minnesotans will be temporarily jobless as a result of all the executive orders issued thus far. Important not to call that an unemployment rate, cause they’re not unemployed, they’re just temporarily jobless during this two-week period.”
Grove went on to say that as of Wednesday, March 25, the state has received 164,786 applications for unemployment insurance. That’s an increase of 15,168 since Tuesday.
Extending Closure of Bars and Restaurants
Gov. Walz also issued executive orders extending the closure of bars, restaurants, and other public accommodations set forth in Executive Orders 20-04 and 20-08 until May 1, 2020 at 5 p.m. and authorizing the Commissioner of Education to implement a Distance Learning Period for Minnesota’s students beginning on March 30 through May 4, 2020.
People looking for more information should go to https://mn.gov/governor/covid-19/