Citing progress made to prepare for peak of infection, Gov. Tim Walz announced last Thursday a measured, cautious turning of the dial toward a new normal.
With the Stay Home Executive Order expiring May 18, the governor replaced it with an order continuing to encourage Minnesotans to stay close to home but allowing for gatherings of friends and family of 10 people or less.
Retail stores and other main street businesses can now open, if they have a social distancing plan and operate at 50 percent occupancy.
The governor has also directed his cabinet to come up with 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.
“We know this has been hard. Weddings, funerals and graduations postponed. The letters I’ve received from young children offering to cancel their birthday parties break my heart. Our social and mental well-being is an important factor as we chart our path forward,” Gov. Walz said.
“Minnesotans, thank you for your continued sacrifices,” Gov. 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.”
House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, thanked every Minnesotan who called, emailed and wrote to the Gov. Walz. “The governor is finally listening to the thousands of Minnesotans who have been asking for an end to these forced closures and the devastation they have caused to families and businesses across the state. For some, this announcement comes too late, and their doors will never reopen,” Daudt said in a press releasse. “Many restaurants, salons, and other businesses have been planning for weeks to reopen — if they can do so safely, they should be allowed to do so.”
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
• Percent of COVID-19 cases for which the source of infection is unknown
Minnesotans are still asked to stay close to home and limit travel to what is essential. In all cases, Minnesotans are asked not to gather in large groups. All gatherings are limited to 10 and social distancing with masks, hand-washing and other safety measures should be followed to protect each other.