In spite of not having fourteen days of a consistent downward trend on the number of cases, currently there have been 18,200 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 809 deaths, nor do we have a process for contract tracing in place, yesterday Governor Tim Walz (DFL-MN) announced the next steps forward. Catholic Archbishop Bernard Hebda is calling on is parishioners to defy to order and the clergy to hold normal services without adhering to Walz’ order. The conservative Lutheran churches of the Missouri and Wisconsin synod are following suit. The entirety of Walz’ order follows.
Governor Tim Walz today announced the phases in his Stay Safe Plan, including a cautious, strategic turn of the dial to allow limited outdoor dining at restaurants and bars starting June 1, 2020. The Governor also announced that salons and barbershops will be allowed to open June 1 at 25 percent occupancy to ensure the safety of both the employees and the customers inside. In both industries, customers will be either strongly recommended or required to wear masks, make reservations, and adhere to social distancing requirements to keep themselves, other customers, and employees safe.
“Our restaurants and bars are an integral part of the social fabric of Minnesota, and it has been heartbreaking to see this pandemic wreak havoc on our hospitality industry,” said Governor Walz. “While the virus won’t yet allow for business as usual, let’s do what we do best after winter in Minnesota and head outside. Whether it’s a Jucy Lucy, a plate of tamales, or a walleye dinner, Minnesotans can support their local restaurant by enjoying a socially distanced meal outdoors.”
Outdoor dining can begin on June 1, with restaurants maintaining social distancing and seating no more than 50 patrons at a time. In addition to outdoor dining, restaurants and bars will be able to continue to offer takeout, curbside, and delivery services, which have been permitted throughout the pandemic in Minnesota. While Minnesota has ranked first in the nation for takeout and delivery patronage during the outbreak of COVID-19, restaurants and bars have been closed for in-person dining since March 17. Since then, the State of Minnesota has worked with the health care sector to expand health care capacity and procure ICU beds, ventilators, and personal protective equipment.
“This is a measured approach that matches the thoughtfulness and generosity of our restauranteurs, who have found creative ways to safely feed their neighbors throughout this pandemic – but making this work relies on all of us,” said Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan. “Supporting your favorite businesses means following health and safety rules at all times – making an appointment or reservation, maintaining social distance, washing your hands, and wearing a mask. It also means that workers are protected if they report concerns about the health and safety practices of their workplace. That’s how we can keep each other healthy so we can continue safely turning the dial in Minnesota.”
“It’s important for all Minnesotans to remember that they have a big role to play in making this reopening process successful,” said Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm. “By continuing to follow social distancing guidelines, wearing masks, washing hands, and staying home when sick, we can limit the spread of COVID-19 and protect our most vulnerable friends and family members.”
On May 13, Governor Walz replaced Minnesota’s Stay Home order with a Stay Safe order as Minnesota continues to safely turn the dial back towards normal life. The Stay Safe order includes a plan for a phased reopening of society as well as a plan to dial back based on the rate of testing, new cases, hospitalizations, and deaths. Governor Walz has stressed the importance of reopening cautiously and strategically, which is why salons and barbershops will be allowed to reopen on June 1 with only 25 percent occupancy and additional safety measures in place.
“While all Minnesotans are eager to get a haircut, we owe an enormous debt of gratitude to our salons and barbershops that put their businesses on hold in order to allow the state time to prepare for COVID-19,” Governor Walz continued. “With the addition of safety measures like personal protective equipment and a limited number of people inside, it’s safe to say we’re not going back to normal. But we can cautiously turn the dial back as Minnesotans continue to do their part to stay safe. Make a reservation, wear a mask, wash your hands, and stay home if you’re feeling sick.”
“Now is the time for innovative solutions as we navigate a new normal, support our favorite businesses and ensure the safety of workers and customers,” said Department of Employment and Economic Development Commissioner Steve Grove. “This phased approach to reopening our economy is rooted in safety for everyone, and will ensure we can continue to put more Minnesotans back to work and make data-driven decisions at every turn of the dial.”
Outdoor dining and limited salon occupancy are part of phase II of Governor Walz’s Stay Safe Plan. This phase will go into effect on June 1 and will include the opening of campgrounds and other recreational activities. More information on the actives included in the various phases within the Stay Safe Plan can be found here.
As the Walz-Flanagan Administration works to cautiously adjust the dials in Minnesota, the Governor has taken steps to ensure workers are being protected as more businesses reopen. The Governor signed an executive order preventing workers from being fired for refusing to work in unsafe conditions. Business must continue to protect their employees while also taking steps to protect their customers. More information on worker protections can be found here.
In response, Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R-09, Nisswa) sent a letter, signed by all of the members of the majority caucus to Walz and Attorney General Keith Ellison (DFL-MN) raising concerns over the administration’s interpretation of peacetime emergency powers and the use of enforcement action.