A Step Toward Reopening Minnesota

Governor Tim Walz issued a number of Executive Orders related to the COVID-19 pandemic this week, including Executive Orders 20-53 and 20-56.  Governor Walz has issued fifty-seven Executive Orders since the peacetime emergency was declared for the State of Minnesota on March 13, 2020. For a summary of each of Governor Walz’s COVID-19 Executive Orders, click here.

According to the numbers published on the Minnesota COVID-19 Response website, Minnesota has had over 14,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and over 600 fatalities. With the recent Executive Orders, as with previous ones, Minnesota must balance public health needs with economic considerations. Executive Orders 20-53 and 20-56 expands upon Executive Order 20-48 allowing certain “non-critical” businesses to reopen and resume operations after implementing adequate safety measures.   

Here are the 7 important takeaways from Executive Orders 20-53 and 20-56:

  1. The COVID-19 Peacetime Emergency has been extended through June 12, 2020.
  2. The stay-at-home order has been replaced by a stay safe Minnesota order through May 31, 2020 with new permissions discussed below.
  3. You may leave your homes for certain activities. 

While Minnesota is still encouraging the limitation of social interactions, you may leave your home for activities so long as you follow the requirements of the Minnesota Department of Health, Department of Natural Resources, and the Center for Disease Control.  Unnecessary travel is still discouraged. Gatherings of more than 10 people are prohibited. More information for engaging in activities outside of the home can be found at https://mn.gov/covid19/.

  1. Bars, restaurants and other places of public accommodation may be opening beginning June 1, 2020.

The Commissions of Health, Employment and Economic Development, and Labor and Industry are developing a plan to reopen bars, restaurants, and other places of public accommodation by June 1, 2020. The plan will be presented to the public by May 20, 2020.

  1. Certain Non-critical businesses may reopen. 

Certain Non-Critical Exempt Businesses may resume operations, including retail stores and malls. Customer-facing businesses must allow no more than 50% of the establishment’s occupant capacity inside the business at any time. Guidance for what constitutes Non-Critical Exempt Businesses can be found at https://mn.gov/deed/safework/.

  1. Non-Critical Exempt Businesses must create a COVID-19 Preparedness Plan. 

All Non-Critical Exempt Businesses must create and implement a COVID-19 Preparedness Plan prior to resuming operations. All employees returning to work must be trained on the employers’ COVID-19 Preparedness Plan and its procedures. Click here for more information on creating a COVID-19 Preparedness Plan. 

  1. Certain Outdoor recreational activities and associated facilities may reopen.

Executive Order 20-56 provides a list of outdoor recreational activities and facilities that may reopen, including parks, golf courses, camping sites, and more. All outdoor recreational activities and facilities that are reopening must adhere to the limitation of the number of individuals that can gather as well as the Outdoor Recreation Guidelines found at https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/covid-19.html

Note, the Executive Orders continue to require all workers who can work from home to continue to do so. 

These most recent Executive Orders are a step towards reopening Minnesota and allowing more Minnesotans to return to work. It is important to remember that as with the previous Executive Orders, failure to comply with Executive Orders 20-53 and 20-56 may result in a fine or imprisonment and potential civil penalties.

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