Updated: March 26, 2020 12:24 PM
Created: March 25, 2020 05:31 PM
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz called on Minnesotans to remain at home for two weeks to curb the spread of COVID-19 on Wednesday.
The executive order is the governor's strictest executive action yet, asking state residents to partake in a form of extreme social distancing as the virus spreads to a growing number of people in the state and hospitals prepare for more patients.
The following is a breakdown of the new order.
What does Gov. Walz's new order say?
An executive order was signed by the governor Wednesday, prompting the two-week period that will begin Friday night (March 27) at 11:59 p.m. through Friday, April 10. The order also includes more limited social distancing plans to follow with a focus on people at greatest risk of COVID-19 complications — mainly people who are elderly or have underlying health conditions.
What are considered essential needs and services during the stay-at-home order?
The order does not mean the entire state is shut down. Residents are still allowed to leave their homes for things like groceries, gas, emergency medical services or supplies, caring for family members, friends or pets and moving between emergency shelters for those who are homeless.
People who work in "critical sectors" are exempt from the stay-at home-order, which includes: health care workers, emergency responders, law enforcement, staff at shelters, child care facilities, food production, utilities, the news media and critical manufacturing. Other workplaces are asked to shift to a telework and work from home model under the order.
What is expected to remain open?
The governor has ordered hardware stores, post offices, convenience stores, funeral homes, pharmacies, banks, automotive repair, maintenance facilities and food shelves to stay open during the stay-at-home order. The state Legislature will also remain open, however, state legislators have already restricted access and moved to an on-call basis to pass emergency legislation. If you're out of work, you can find information on unemployment insurance through the state here.
Are residents allowed to go outside?
The order allows people to enjoy outdoor activities, such as walking, hiking, running, biking, hunting or fishing, as long as the appropriate social distancing is practiced, according to Walz.
Are liquor stores open?
Under the latest executive action, liquor stores are allowed to operate.
Are there any more restrictions for bars and restaurants?
Minnesota bars and restaurants are already closed to dine-in customers through at least May 1 under a separate executive order from Gov. Walz. However, it's important to note that restaurants can still offer delivery and takeout services through the new executive order.
Is there an update as of March 25 on school closures?
Public K-12 schools in Minnesota are also closed under a separate executive order issued by Gov. Walz, which will be extended to May 4. Teachers have started distance-learning plans during this timeframe.
How does it affect real-estate and ongoing construction projects?
Real-estate and construction jobs are considered essential under the new order, so nothing will fundamentally change the way housing in the Twin Cities is bought, sold, built and rented. Leading up to this announcement, the Minnesota Realtors put a hold on open houses by asking agents not to host them and by asking the state's largest listing organization to turn off the function that allows agents to post notice of an open house.
"To support our government and health agencies in efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19, we encourage every association member to refrain from holding open houses during this global emergency," said Minnesota Realtors CEO Chris Galler in a statement earlier this week. "We recommend leveraging virtual touring options as an alternative to open houses."
What about transportation-related items, such as roads, transit and airports?
The new order doesn't shut down roadways, public transit and airports. They will all still be available for essential travel, in or out of the state. People who are currently outside of the state will be able to return.
How are these orders being enforced in the state?
Enforcement in other countries have been more strict, specifically in European countries, with similar orders. However, these executive orders in the United States have not come with strict enforcement.
Violating this order in Minnesota comes with the penalty of a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 90 days in jail and up to $1,000 in fines. Walz addressed the enforcement, saying the point is to educate people.
"We don't want them to be arrested, first and foremost, we want to educate people," he said. "This requires voluntary social compliance for a large part."
You can find more information and resources regarding the COVID-19 pandemic here.
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