FILE - Minnesota Governor Tim Walz

Minnesota Governor Tim Walz

(The Center Square) – Two days after self-quarantining after novel coronavirus contact, Gov. Tim Walz issued a shelter in place order for 5.6 million Minnesotans to slow the spread of COVID-19.

The executive order directs residents to stay at home and limit nonessential travel from 11:59 p.m. on Friday through 5 p.m. April 10.

“We must take bold action to save the lives of Minnesotans,” Walz said in a news  release. “Having served as a Command Sergeant Major in the Army National Guard, I know the importance of having a plan. While the virus will still be here when this order ends, this action will slow the spread of COVID-19 and give Minnesota time to ready for battle.”

Walz cited modeling from the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and University of Minnesota that without precautions, more than 70,000 Minnesotans could die from COVID-19.

Walz said the order will give the state more time to increase hospital capacity, personal protective equipment, and analyze more data.

“We will work with our world-renowned health care sector, cutting-edge manufacturers, innovative business community, and strong-spirited Minnesotans across the state to tackle this virus head on,” Walz said. “These are trying times. But we are Minnesotans. We see challenges – and we tackle them. No matter how daunting the challenge; no matter how dark the times; Minnesota has always risen up – by coming together. If we unite as One Minnesota, we will save lives.”

Residents can leave their residences only for the following reasons, and should practice social distancing when they do:

  • Health and safety activities, such as obtaining emergency services or medical supplies
  •  Outdoor activities, such as walking, hiking, running, biking, hunting, or fishing
  • Necessary Supplies and Services, such as getting groceries, gasoline, or carry-out
  •  Essential and interstate travel, such as returning to a home from outside this state
  •  Care of others, such as caring for a family member, friend, or pet in another household
  • Displacement, such as moving between emergency shelters if you are without a home
  •  Relocation to ensure safety, such as relocating to a different location if your home has been unsafe due to domestic violence, sanitation, or essential operations reasons
  •  Tribal activities and lands, such as activities by members within the boundaries of their tribal reservation

“Public health and health care workers around the state are working incredibly hard to protect Minnesotans from this outbreak, and we need all Minnesotans to do their part to slow the spread,” MDH Commissioner Jan Malcolm said. “These new measures will buy us much-needed time to secure additional resources and line up additional protections for our most vulnerable Minnesotans.”

Critical workers are exempt from the order, and include but aren’t limited to the following sectors:

  • 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.

Walz also issued executive orders extending the closure of bars, restaurants, and other businesses previously shuttered until 5 p.m. May 1.

He also authorized the Commissioner of Education to implement a Distance Learning Period for students from March 30 through May 4, 2020.

More than a dozen states have taken similar action, including Wisconsin, Ohio and Michigan.

Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R- Nisswa, expressed concern regarding the economic impact order.

“I share the Governor’s concerns about the safety and well-being of all Minnesotans,” Gazelka said in a news release. “I also have grave concerns about the Governor’s statewide Stay-at-Home order, and the consequences for the families of Minnesota when their jobs and businesses that provide their livelihood are lost.”

Staff Reporter

Scott McClallen is a staff writer covering Michigan and Minnesota for The Center Square. A graduate of Hillsdale College, his work has appeared on Forbes.com and FEE.org. Previously, he worked as a financial analyst at Pepsi.