Governor Walz’s new Stay Safe MN order is in effect
Governor Tim Walz announced the next phase of the COVID-19 response in Minnesota. Citing progress made to prepare for peak of infection, the Governor announced a measured, cautious turning of the dial toward a new normal. The Stay Home Executive Order expired on May 18. The Governor replaced it with an order (Stay Safe MN) continuing to encourage Minnesotans to stay close to home and limit travel to what is essential, but allowing for gatherings of friends and family of 10 people or less. The Governor also opened retail stores, malls and other main street businesses for in-person shopping if they have a social distancing plan that incorporates social distancing protocols for workers and customers and they operate at 50 percent occupancy.
The Department of Employment & Economic Development (DEED) estimates that this action will enable up to 37,000 more workers to safely return to work over the next several weeks.
“Minnesotans, thank you for your continued sacrifices,” Governor Walz said. “You have saved thousands of lives. You successfully pushed out the peak of this virus and bought our state time to get ready to treat those who fall ill. We know there’s no stopping the storm of COVID-19 from hitting Minnesota, but we have made great progress to prepare for it.”
“This is not the time for sudden movements,” Governor Walz continued. “We are not flipping a switch and going back to normal all at once. We are slowly moving a dial and introducing more interaction between people over time. As we take cautious steps forward, it is more important than ever that we protect those most at risk, support workers, and all do our part to slow the spread of the virus.”
In conjunction with this announcement, the Governor signed Executive Orders to protect Minnesotans most at risk from the virus and safeguard workers. The first Executive Order strongly encourages Minnesotans at greatest risk of serious illness to continue staying home. The second Executive Order ensures workers can raise concerns regarding the safety of their work environments without fear of discrimination or retaliation. It also protects workers from loss of income if they refuse to work under unsafe or unhealthy conditions.
Following the guidance of public health officials, the Governor announced a preliminary set of health indicators that could trigger a decision to re-impose restrictions to slow the spread of the virus. These indicators will be refined over time as we learn more about the virus and the course of the pandemic in Minnesota. They include the number of COVID-19 tests that can be conducted as well as the rate of increase in: number of new COVID-19 cases, percent of COVID-19 tests that are positive and percent of cases for which the source of infection is unknown.
The Governor also announced that he is directing his cabinet to assemble similar guidance on how to safely re-open bars, restaurants, barbershops, and salons beginning June 1. This will coincide with a significant increase in testing, tracing, and isolating the virus in the state.
The Governor also extended his peacetime emergency authority until June 12. Extending the peacetime emergency in Minnesota allows the Governor to keep his toolbox open so he can take critical, swift action to protect Minnesotans. Being in a peacetime state of emergency has allowed Minnesota to: enhance protections for veterans in our veterans homes; activate the National Guard to assist in relief efforts; provide economic relief and stability to those impacted by the pandemic; and more.
Additional guidance, including a template plan and checklist for businesses, is available on DEED’s website at mn.gov/deed/safework.