Governor Walz Directs Minnesotans to Stay at Home (Effective March 27, 2020 at 11:59 p.m.)
On March 25, 2020, Governor Walz signed Executive Order 20-20, directing all individuals within the State of Minnesota to stay at home as a result of the COVID-19 peacetime emergency. Individuals are instructed to stay at their place of residence and all non-essential businesses are ordered to close or transition all operations to remote work. Exec. Order 20-20 is similar to several “shelter-in-place” orders that have been issued in other states.
The stay at home order is effective at 11:59 pm CT on Friday, March 27, 2020 and will last until April 10, 2020 at 5:00 pm CT. Governor Walz also announced that he was extending the current closure of bars, restaurants, and other places of public accommodations until May 1, 2020 and ordering public schools to remain closed until May 4, 2020.
Exceptions for Individuals: Under Exec. Order 20-20 individuals are allowed to leave their homes for a variety of “Activities” important in their daily lives. These Activities include obtaining necessary supplies and services, including food, beverage, and other grocery items; outdoor activities; health and safety activities, including seeking medical services; providing care for others; and essential intrastate travel. The order also provides that individuals may access shared outdoor spaces, but people are instructed to, as much as reasonably possible, maintain social distancing of at least six (6) feet apart.
Impact on Businesses Generally: The order to stay at home closes all businesses not deemed “Critical Sectors” as defined in Exec. Order 20-20. This does NOT, however, restrict virtual work or telework (i.e. work from home), and Minnesotans working in any field are encouraged to work from their home or residence as much as possible.
Exemptions for Critical Sectors: Exec. Order 20-20 expressly exempts workers in Critical Sectors from the stay at home order, though it does state that “all workers who can work from home must do so.” Critical Sectors include health care and public health; law enforcement, public safety, and first responders; food and agriculture; energy; water and wastewater; transportation and logistics; public works; communications and information technology; and other community-based government operations and essential functions as well as other essential government, faith, and service industries. A full list of Critical Sectors can be found here.
Work in the Critical Sectors should be performed, to the maximum extent possible, in a matter that conforms to Minnesota Department of Health and CDC Guidelines. Exec. Order 20-20 incorporates and relies on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency’s (CISA), Memorandum on Identification of Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers During COVID-19 Response to define what constitutes an essential business. That federal guidance can be found here.
Another resource is this link from the State of Minnesota showing “NAICS Codes determined to be critical”: https://mn.gov/deed/assets/naics-critical-list_tcm1045-424829.pdf
Additional guidance will be provided and updated as received.
Enforcement: All Minnesotans are urged to voluntarily comply with Exec. Order 20-20. However, a person who willfully violates the 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.
Wisconsin’s Shelter-In-Place: Governor Tony Evers of Wisconsin issued a similar order yesterday that went into effect at 8:00 am CT this morning. It provides similar exceptions for essential activities and the operation of essential businesses. A copy of that order can be found here.
Key Issues to Consider
In determining whether you and your business are operating in a Critical Sector for the purposes of Executive Order 20-20, you should consult both the State of Minnesota information provided above and guidance materials provided by the Department of Homeland Security, Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA). Those materials can be found here.
Some businesses will find their industry listed directly in state and federal guidance. Others can continue to operate because they are critical suppliers to those businesses (e.g. a producer of a part critical to the manufacture of a product used in the health care or national defense industries).
Larkin Hoffman attorneys are available to assist business owners in determining whether, and in what manner, they may continue to operate during the stay at home order.
Additionally, all businesses operating in a Critical Sector should provide their employees with letters detailing their critical function to provide to law enforcement in the event employees are stopped and questioned by law enforcement. Those businesses might also consider sending a letter to their critical suppliers notifying them that their work should also continue. Larkin Hoffman can help businesses prepare those letters to ensure they comply with state and federal law.
Find a full copy of Executive Order 20-20 here.
We Can Help
Every individual and company are managing issues arising from COVID-19. The Larkin Hoffman Government Relations team is engaged daily with key state government decision makers to gain assistance and remove barriers critical to our clients ongoing operations, and perhaps even their survival. We are available to assist you on issues ranging from influencing the governor’s Executive Orders to requesting waivers from state government requirements to revising legislative proposals that will become law.