The COVID-19 Surge, is Your Business Ready?
By Thomas E. Marshall
On November 10, 2020, at 2:00 PM, Governor Tim Walz informed Minnesotans about the “exponential growth” the state has experienced in the recent past. He added that he hoped this would not happen but this growth was expected. He congratulated Minnesotans on their efforts taken so far.
The peak in virus cases is in the younger members of the community, 70% of whom may be asymptomatic. However, the danger remains that they can unintentionally infect the more susceptible older population.
71% of recent infections have come from private social gatherings, weddings, funerals, private parties, in addition to bars and restaurants and late night activities.
Accordingly, restrictions are going to be implemented. There will be a ten person limit to indoor or outdoor social gatherings, and they would be limited to three or less households. Bars and restaurants will be required to be closed from 10:00 PM to 4:00 AM although dining take out may still go on. Bars and restaurants will be limited in capacity to 50% but in no circumstance more than 150 patrons. Six foot social distancing must be maintained between patrons at different tables. The Governor added that bar games, like darts, and counter service should be prohibited. Limitations become effective on November 13 at 10:00 PM. Also, weddings and funerals will be reduced to no more than 50 persons on November 27, and 25 persons after December 11. The Governor stated his “hope” that these measures would “buy” the State another “four to six weeks” and be the “bridge to end this thing.” Gov. Walz’ Executive Order 2020-96 may be found here:
Significantly, the enforcement provisions have been changed from prior Orders to add the ability of the Attorney General, city and county attorneys to investigate violations or threatened violations:
Pursuant to Minnesota Statutes 2019, section 12.45, an individual who willfully violates this Executive Order is guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction must be punished by a fine not to exceed $1,000 or by imprisonment for not more than 90 days. Any business owner, manager, or supervisor who requires or encourages any of their employees, contractors, vendors, volunteers, or interns to violate this Executive Order is guilty of a gross misdemeanor and upon conviction must be punished by a fine not to exceed $3,000 or by imprisonment for not more than a year. In addition to those criminal penalties, the Attorney General, as well as city and county attorneys, may investigate and seek any civil relief available pursuant to Minnesota Statutes 2019, section 8.31, for violations or threatened violations of this Executive Order, including but not limited to injunctive relief, civil penalties in an amount to be determined by the court, up to $25,000 per occurrence, costs of investigation and reasonable attorney’s fees and costs, and other equitable relief as determined by the court in accordance with section 8.31
Ex. Order 20-96, ¶ 8. Prior Executive Order 20-74 remains in effect except as amended by Gov. Walz’ November 10 Order.
Where does your business stand? Have you implemented your COVID-19 Preparedness Plan? Have you put in place the protective measures ordered by the Governor? Have you reviewed your policies and procedures for virus compliance? Have you put up the required postings for employees and vendors or customers that may enter your business? If not, or you have other questions related to Covid-19, we suggest you call your attorneys at Engelmeier & Umanah to help you become virus compliant.