Cities should review new authority and consider recommendations related to events that could cause community spread of COVID-19.
Gov. Tim Walz announced Executive Order 20-01 declaring a peacetime state of emergency in response to COVID-19 at a press conference held March 13.
The executive order is “opening the toolbox,” said Walz and indicates a “heightened state of readiness to protect Minnesotans.” However, the state is not invoking any special powers or enforcement authority at this time.
The Governor’s declaration does not call on cities to take any specific action. Cities should continue to monitor the situation locally and use the procedures and plans you have in place to manage this health pandemic.
Legislature announces recess
Meanwhile, on March 15, legislative leaders agreed to effectively recess the legislative session until April 14. During this time, there will be no standing floor and committee meetings and the Legislature will only come back in on an on-call basis to pass legislation related to the coronavirus or legislative proposals that have agreement from all four legislative leaders.
During the March 13 press conference, a series of community level strategies to slow the spread of COVID-19 was announced by Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) Commissioner Jan Malcolm.
MDH recommends postponing or canceling:
- Large events where 250 people or more would gather. On March 15, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) further released guidelines recommending that events with more than 50 people be canceled for eight weeks. Such events include but are not limited to:
- Professional, college, and school performances, or sporting events.
- Smaller events (fewer than 250 people) that are held in venues that do not allow social distancing of 6 feet per person. This includes gatherings in crowded auditoriums, rooms, or other venues.
- Events with more than 10 people where the majority of participants are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19, including gatherings such as those at:
- Retirement facilities.
- Assisted living facilities.
- Developmental homes.
- Support groups for people with health conditions.
The MDH website also includes a link to other recommendations for specific subgroups and travel from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Public safety considerations
Attorney General Keith Ellison also spoke at the press conference and cautioned that the current environment may embolden scam artists. He advised people to watch out for fake websites selling fake vaccines or cures, false calls for charitable donations, and email scams pretending to be official agencies, such as the CDC, that include malicious links.
Ellison also encouraged reporting of price gauging. “We’re working together and very confident that our efforts are going to see Minnesotans through this situation,” said Ellison.
Time frame of executive order
Under state law, the governor’s emergency executive order is in effect for five days, at which time the Executive Council — which is chaired by the governor and also includes the lieutenant governor, secretary of state, state auditor, and attorney general — can adopt a resolution to extend the declaration for up to 30 days.