SUAB HMONG NEWS (03/26/2020) — On Wednesday March 25, 2020, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz issued an order for Minnesotans to stay at home unless absolutely necessary. The “stay-at-home” order will be in effect from March 27, 2020 start at 11:59 p.m. until at least April 10, 2020.
What are considered absolutely necessary (essential needs and services)?
The order still allows people to leave the house 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.
And people who work in “critical sectors” are exempt from the stay at home order, including health care workers, emergency responders, law enforcement, 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 else will stay open?
Walz has also ordered hardware stores, post offices, convenience stores, funeral homes, pharmacies, banks and food shelves to stay open during the stay-at-home order. The state Legislature is also open under the order, but state legislators have already restricted access and moved to an on-call basis to pass emergency legislation.
Are residents allowed to go outside?
Yes, the order still allows people to get outside for “walking, hiking, running, biking, hunting, or fishing,” but with the appropriate social distancing, Walz said.
What about liquor stores?
Liquor stores have been allowed to stay open even under the latest executive action.
Are there more restrictions for bars and restaurants?
Bars and restaurants in Minnesota are already closed to dine-in customers through at least May 1 under a separate executive order from the governor. Under the new order, restaurants can still serve delivery and take out.
What about real estate and ongoing construction projects?
The order considers most real estate and construction jobs essential, so it won’t fundamentally change the way housing in the Twin Cities is bought, sold, built and rented. But already, 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.
“It’s not business as usual, it’s business as needed,” said Chris Galler, CEO of the Minnesota Realtors.
Any update on school closures?
Public K-12 schools across the state are also closed under a separate executive order issued by the governor, which will be extended to May 4, with teachers starting distance learning plans.
What about transportation like roads, transit and airports?
Roadways, public transit and the airport will still be up and running under the order for essential travel in and out of the state. People who are outside of the state are still able to return, under the order.
How are these orders enforced?
So far, these orders in the U.S. haven’t come with strict enforcement. Enforcement has been more strict in European countries with similar orders, where residents can be fined if they are outside of their home for non-essential services.
A willful violation of the order in Minnesota comes with the penalties of a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 90 days in jail or up to $1,000 in fines. But Walz said law enforcement will be more focused on educating the public than writing tickets.
“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.”
What do the experts say?
Experts say extreme social distancing measures have proven effective in places like China, where officials shut down Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak, in January. That helped them isolate the virus in a few areas and focus their resources on the areas that needed it most.
“It’s clear that social distancing measures are the most effective thing we can do early on,” said Ryan Demmer, an associate professor in the epidemiology and community health division of the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health. “So anything we can do to increase that has potential value.”