Gov. Walz: stay at home order will expire in 'cautious, strategic' next step

Retail open to 50%, gatherings of 10 or fewer, wear masks and physical distance

Sloane Martin
May 13, 2020 - 1:45 pm

As reported by WCCO political analyst Blois Olson, Gov. Tim Walz is lifting the state's stay at home order, which is set to expire Sunday at midnight, adding that it's not like flipping a switch, and rollbacks will be enforced if there is a spike in cases.

Retailers are permitted to open up to 50% capacity. There will also be guidance for bars, restaurants, salons and gyms open up on June 1. Gatherings should be limited to 10 or fewer with proper physical distancing.

“This is not the time for sudden movements,” Walz said in a video announcement Wednesday. “We are not flipping a switch and going back to normal all at once. We are slowly moving a dial and introducing more interaction between people over time. As we take cautious steps forward, it is more important than ever that we protect those most at risk, support workers, and all do our part to slow the spread of the virus.”

Residents should still wear masks, work from home if possible, and limit time congregating.

"Not wearing a mask isn't a sign of rebellion," he told reporters after the announcement. "It's just hurting your neighbor."

During Walz's address, he praised Minnesotans all over the state. 

“Minnesotans, thank you for your continued sacrifices,” he said. “You have saved thousands of lives. You successfully pushed out the peak of this virus and bought our state time to get ready to treat those who fall ill. We know there’s no stopping the storm of COVID-19 from hitting Minnesota, but we have made great progress to prepare for it.”

The stay at home order, he said, allowed the state to build up its reserve of critical care equipment and hospital and ICU capacity to withstand more hospitalizations. Senate majority leader Paul Gazelka expressed support.

“We’re moving in the right direction,” Gazelka said in a video outside the capitol. “This is really good news. I’m glad that he listened to us and I feel like we lead the way. Now it’s up to us, you and me, that we practice safe distancing. I have every confidence we’re going to be able to do it. Minnesota is back on track.”

House Speaker Melissa Hortman echoed Gazelka saying success is in the hands of Minnesotans.

"We have a responsibility to be considerate of each other and do the things that are smart and proven to reduce transmission of this deadly disease," she said in a statement. "Minnesotans have trusted Governor Walz through this crisis and he has done an excellent job. Now he is putting his trust and his faith in the people of Minnesota. I hope Minnesotans show him that his trust was warranted. 

Walz also announced two executive orders, one that allows critical workers to raise concerns about workplace conditions without the fear of retaliation; the other for high-risk people to shelter at home.

The Minnesota mathematical data model version 3.0 from the University of Minnesota and the Minnesota Department of Health predicted 800 more people would die by lifting the stay at home order May 18, its expiration date, as opposed to extending it to May 31.

"Those are all Minnesotans," Walz said. "That is the potential if we don't get it right."

Along with the model, health officials and the Walz Administration also looked at the rate of case-doubling and the rate of positive cases as testing increases.

The Minnesota Nurses' Association was dismayed, saying nurses at some hospitals are still "dangerously" rationing PPE.

"Nurses also hope to re-open Minnesota businesses as soon as possible, but, just as many other Minnesotans have expressed, it’s not possible to do so without jeopardizing the safety of healthcare workers and all Minnesotans," president Mary Turner said in a statement.

Walz responded: "This is the line we walk. I do not dispute the nurses who are deeply concerned we are on the edge on this."

The stay at home originally began March 27. Officials said the time allowed them to expand the state's critical care supply reserve and hospital and ICU capacity.


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