Stay at Home and Other Virus Developments in Minnesota

By Tom Marshall

Significant actions took place this past week with Gov. Walz' "Stay at Home" Executive Order on Wednesday, the Minnesota Legislature passing a $330 Million virus relief package on Thursday, and Congress passing a $2+ Trillion virus stimulus measure on Friday.

Executive Order 20-20

On Wednesday, at 2:00 PM, Gov. Walz announced his Stay at Home Executive Order. The text of the Order may be found here: https://www.leg.state.mn.us/archive/execorders/20-20.pdf. Under the Order, all Minnesotans must stay at home and may only travel for essential needs as identified in the Order. The Order has the force of law and violation could result in a fine of up to $1,000 or confinement up to 90 days.

Minnesotans may leave their home or residence for the following activities as long as they practice the guidelines from the Minnesota Department of Health (found here: https://www.health.state.mn.us/diseases/coronavirus/) including social distancing, etc.:

  • Relocation to ensure safety, i.e., if your home has been unsafe due to domestic violence, sanitation, or essential operations you may relocate;
  • Health and safety activities like emergencies, medical services and supplies, donating blood, etc.;
  • Outdoor activities, walking, hiking, running, biking, driving for pleasure, hunting, or fishing;
  • Necessary Supplies and Services, which includes grocery shopping, delivery and carry out, gasoline, purchasing essential supplies for the home, etc.;
  • Essential intrastate and interstate travel, which includes returning to a home in Minnesota from outside the state;
  • Care of others, which includes caring for a family member, friend, or pet in another household;
  • Displacement, for persons without a home to shelters or encampments; and
  • Tribal activities and lands, which are activities by tribal members within the boundaries of their tribal reservation.

Certain persons and occupations are exempt from the Order. They include:

  • Healthcare and public health;
  • Law enforcement, public safety, and first responders;
  • Emergency shelters, congregate living facilities, drop-in centers;
  • Child care;
  • Food and agriculture;
  • News media;
  • Energy;
  • Water and wastewater; and
  • Critical manufacturing.

Travel for legal services is also limited for critical and safety issues, such as child protection, domestic abuse and certain other measures as listed in the Order.

Gov. Walz took this action to slow the spread of the virus in order to prepare for its ultimate onslaught. He seeks to have the state supply of available hospital beds, ventilators and other measures well in place. He based his decision, in part, on modeling from the University of Minnesota with the MDH on the potential danger to Minnesotans if no action was taken.

Minnesota Legislature

The Legislature passed a relief bill on Thursday authorizing $330 Million for virus relief measures. The text of the bill may be found here: https://www.revisor.mn.gov/bills/text.php?number=HF4531&version=latest&session=91&session_number=0&session_year=2019

The bill provides assistance in the form of small business loans, grants for childcare, food shelves and emergency services, and other similar things. It also adds additional measures to unemployment building on Gov. Walz' earlier Executive Order. It changes the definition of "suitable employment" such that risk of exposure to COVID-19 would not make employment suitable. The bill waives the one-week waiting period for individuals and five-week waiting period for business owners. Leaves or layoffs related to the virus would be presumed to be eligible for benefits.

Congress

On Friday, Congress finally passed its stimulus legislation providing over $2 Trillion in the form of loans and guarantees for large and small business, payments of up to $1,200 per individual for 150 million American households and $250 Billion in unemployment assistance. Certain displaced workers could receive additional unemployment compensation of up to $600 per week for four months. President Trump indicated he would like to get the nation back up and running by Easter. Hopefully we will turn the corner in the next two weeks. In the meantime, stay safe and healthy at home