Governor Walz Signs Unprecedented “Stay at Home” Order to Stem the COVID-19 Pandemic

March 2020

On March 25, 2020, Governor Walz signed into effect Emergency Executive Order 20-20 “Directing Minnesotans to Stay at Home” (the “Order”). The Order requires all persons to stay at home or in their place of residence except to engage in permitted activities or “Critical Sector” work as outlined in the Order. A link to the Order, in its entirety, is provided here.

How Did We Get Here?

The Order is in response to the recent COVID-19 developments in Minnesota, including the presence of community spread, the rapid increase in cases in Minnesota and the U.S., and the first COVID-19 related death in Minnesota. The Order attempts to slow the spread of the pandemic in Minnesota to ensure the healthcare facilities remain able to accommodate those who require intensive medical intervention. Beginning Friday, March 27, 2020, at 11:59 pm through Friday, April 10, 2020, at 5:00 pm, the Order attempts to balance the threat posed by direct exposure to the virus with the realities of everyday life.

How Does the Order Affect My Daily Life?

The Order generally requires all those living within the State of Minnesota to stay at home or in their place of residence. However, because an expectation of total isolation is not realistic, the Order provides exempted activities in which persons within Minnesota may leave their homes or residences to engage in certain exempted activities (the “Activities”). The Activities are as follows:

  1. Relocation to ensure safety (i.e., to leave an unsafe environment, such as domestic violence).
  2. Health and safety activities. (i.e., to obtain medical services and supplies, attend medical appointments, and to donate blood).
  3. Outdoor activities. (i.e., walking, hiking, running, biking, hunting or fishing, the use of public parks and other recreation lands provided that individuals remain at least six feet apart, etc.).
  4. Necessary supplies and services. (i.e., to obtain food (including delivery and take-out), groceries, beverages (including alcoholic), gasoline, supplies needed to work from home, products related to safety, sanitation, and the essential operation of homes and businesses, automobile and bicycle maintenance, and laundromats and dry cleaners).
  5. Essential intrastate and interstate travel. (i.e. travel to exempted activities, travel to and from home, and interstate travel).
  6. Care of others. (i.e., caring for and transport of family members, friends, or pets in another household).
  7. Displacement. (Homeless persons are exempt from the restrictions in this Order, and may move between emergency shelters, drop-in centers, and encampments).
  8. Tribal Activities & Lands. (Tribal reservations and lands are exempt from this Order, but may be subject to restrictions by tribal authorities).

When engaging in any of the Activities, all persons must follow the guidelines set forth and maintained by the Minnesota Department of Health, including but not limited to social distancing.

How Does the Order Affect My Business or Employment?

Please note that the Order does not prevent any person, working in any field—even if the field of work is not an exempted “Critical Sector”—from working from their home or place of residence. However, the Order does restrict workers who cannot work from work or telework, and only workers in “Critical Sectors” may travel to and from their home and place of work and continue to perform duties onsite.  Notwithstanding, the Order explicitly requires all workers who can work from home to do so, even if they are eligible for a “Critical Sector” work exemption. 

The Order classifies thirty-five sectors as “critical” (the “Critical Sectors”), allowing workers in such sectors to travel to and from their place of work (including related travel to and from child care or school settings), and to perform those duties that cannot be done at home. The Critical Sectors are those imperative during the response to the COVID-19 pandemic for the health, safety, and security of all Minnesotans. A link to the “Minnesota Critical Business List” provided by the State of Minnesota listing various subcategories of various industries and whether they are deemed a “Critical Industry” for purposes of the Order is attached here.

The Order does provide that the Critical Sectors may be clarified or altered as deemed necessary by the Governor. Further, the State of Minnesota allows businesses and companies to fill out a form to determine whether they are eligible for the “Critical Sector work exemption.”  This form and other information relating to the Order and Critical Sector work exemptions are available here.

This is a rapidly evolving situation, and FMJ’s attorneys are here to assist you in this historical crisis. We are here to help. Please contact Bob Fafinski (robert.fafinski@fmjlaw.com), Jim Seifert (james.seifert@fmjlaw.com), Schaan Barth (schaan.barth@fmjlaw.com), or AJ Kupstis (anthony.kupstis@fmjlaw.com) about the Order and how it affects your business or place of work.