Stay at Home Information for Cities

Published: March 26, 2020

(Updated Apr 2, 2020)

Gov. Walz issued three Emergency Executive Orders on March 25 announcing additional restrictions in response to COVID-19. This includes Executive Order 20-20, which requires Minnesotans to stay at home beginning on Friday, March 27, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. through Friday, April 10, 2020 at 5 p.m.

Get answers to frequently asked questions regarding the Stay at Home Executive Order:

Q1. The governor’s Executive Order 20-20 refers to “critical sectors.” Which city employees are included?

Q2. What about employees who are needed to support the work of “critical sector” employees?  Are they included too?

Q3. Do employees need some kind of ID to continue the work? Do we need to provide them a letter? If so, can LMC provide a template?

Q4. Does our city hall have to close? What about other facilities?

Q5. What if we don’t have the right technology to allow telework?  Can we just shut down city operations?

Q6. How do we get city supplies if everything is closed?

Q7. What if our “critical sector” employees refuse to come to work out of fear of contracting COVID-19?

Q8. Do police personnel have to enforce this Order? (Updated Apr 2, 2020)

Q9. Cities get to determine “minimum personnel necessary to maintain government operations.” Can that just be done by staff delegated to act on behalf of the city or does it need formal action by the city council?

Q10. Is it up to each city to determine what are city-related “critical sectors”?

Q11. Are there penalties associated with violating the order?

Q12. Do our playgrounds have to be closed?

Q13. Can the city library remain open? Can the library provide drive up service? (Updated Apr 1, 2020)

Q14. Businesses in my city are seeking clarification on eligibility for critical sector worker exemptions. What information is available to help them? (Updated Apr 1, 2020)

Q1. The governor’s Executive Order 20-20 refers to “critical sectors.” Which city employees are included?

A1. All political subdivisions of the state will determine the minimum personnel necessary to maintain governmental operations.  The order specifically includes employees in the following areas as critical sector employees, as well as others:

  • Healthcare and public health
  • Law Enforcement, public safety, and first responders
  • Animal Control
  • Energy
  • Water and wastewater
  • Transportation and logistics
  • Public works
  • Elections
  • Community-based government operations and essential functions
  • Tribal governments
  • Education
  • Notaries
  • Essential supply stores
  • Personnel in emergency management, law enforcement, fire, ambulance service, including front line and management
  • Employees needed to maintain gas/electric/water/sewer utility operations
  • Workers who support the operation of critical sector workers

Specific guidance regarding the definition of these and other categories can be found through the Department of Employment and Economic Development.  In addition more information can be found in these FAQs on the U.S. Census website.

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Q2. What about employees who are needed to support the work of “critical sector” employees?  Are they included too?

A2. Yes, as determined by the individual government entity. The Order includes “workers who support” essential government functions.  In addition to governmental functions necessary to ensure health, safety, and welfare of the public, cities are able to determine what workers are needed to continue “priority services.” Support required for continuity of these services, such as technology, payroll, janitorial/cleaning personnel, and security, can be deemed essential by the local government.  Financial and legal services related to the continuation of critical sectors are also included.
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Q3. Do employees need some kind of ID to continue the work? Do we need to provide them a letter? If so, can LMC provide a template?

A3. The Order does not require that employers in “critical sectors” provide documentation to employees that they work in a critical sector. As a best practice, cities should consider providing a letter to employees as proof that they are employed by and necessary for the “priority services” of the city. Such letters may be useful in the event employees encounter issues while traveling to work or while performing job functions in the field.
—View model critical sectors letter for employee use

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Q4. Does our city hall have to close? What about other facilities?

A4. The Order requires all employees that can work at home must do so, even if they are eligible for a critical sector work exemption. If a city has employees that cannot work at home, they may go to City Hall or other facilities to perform the work functions.  City facilities should generally be closed to the public and access made available by appointment for services that cannot be provided remotely.
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Q5. What if we don’t have the right technology to allow telework?  Can we just shut down city operations?

A5. The Order does not exempt cities from meeting their duties under statute, ordinance, or charter.  Cities, therefore, will need to determine the best balance of work and public safety.
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Q6. How do we get city supplies if everything is closed?

A6. The Order allows businesses that sell products, tools, materials, or supplies necessary for “critical sector” employees to continue their operations and for workers to work from home to remain open.  Cities should still be able to get their necessary supplies.
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Q7. What if our “critical sector” employees refuse to come to work out of fear of contracting COVID-19?

A7. Generally, critical employees are required to report to work.  However, if your city finds itself in this situation, we suggest you consult with your city attorney and/or call the League for assistance.
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Q8. Do police personnel have to enforce this Order?

A8. Although violation of the Order is a misdemeanor, the Governor has urged voluntarily compliance and is working with local law enforcement to support the Order. The Minnesota Department of Public Safety has issued the following guidance for local law enforcement.

—View the Guidance to Local Law Enforcement Agencies Related to the Enforcement of Executive Order 20-20 (pdf) (Updated Mar 29, 2020)

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Q9. Cities get to determine “minimum personnel necessary to maintain government operations.” Can that just be done by staff delegated to act on behalf of the city or does it need formal action by the city council?

A9. It depends. An emergency declaration may have granted power to staff or emergency managers to make that type of decision. If the city has a city manager, that person is already tasked with managing employees and likely has the authority to decide. In other cities that have a clerk or city administrator as their chief administrative officer, such a determination would likely need to be made by the city council unless it has delegated the authority to a city employee or city official.
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Q10. Is it up to each city to determine what are city-related “critical sectors”?

A10. In some cases, yes, the city can make that decision. For instance, if you are still providing electric, water, and sewer service, you can include the office support positions as essential and allow them to work from city hall if they’re not able to work remotely. They would qualify if the city determines they are critical. Another example is payroll and benefits coordination functions. They would also qualify if the city determines they are critical. However, there are some positions, such as public works, that are specified as critical sector employees in the governor’s Executive Order.

The state is the ultimate arbiter determining critical sector workers. The state has provided guidance on determining critical sector employees. If the guidance produced by the state is not clear, cities should work with their city attorney to determine if a specific position meets the definition of a critical sector worker.
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Q11. Are there penalties associated with violating the order?

A11. Violation of an executive order is 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. Nothing in the Executive Order is intended to encourage or allow law enforcement to transgress individual constitutional rights.
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Q12. Do our playgrounds have to be closed?

A12. No. Please note, guidance has changed on the issue of playgrounds. The governor’s office’s most recent communication is that the executive order does not prohibit the use of public playgrounds. Cities and counties can choose to close playgrounds for health and safety reasons.  If your city allows play equipment to remain open in addition to open areas, residents must still maintain at least six feet of distance from anyone not in their household and avoid group play. Cities can help residents comply with this by sharing this message and posting signs on equipment.
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Q13. Can the city library remain open? Can the library provide drive up service?

A13. Libraries do not appear to be a critical sector under the order. Although libraries are not considered a “critical sector” and, thus, not provided with an exemption from staying at home, the Executive Order does not restrict virtual work or telework (i.e., work from home). The order encourages Minnesotans working in any field to work from their home or residence as much as possible. Therefore, it is possible to have library employees working from home; they just should not perform work at their place of employment.

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Q14. Businesses in my city are seeking clarification on eligibility for critical sector worker exemptions. What information is available to help them?

A14. Private businesses should first refer to the federal guidance from the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA). If employees fit into any of the CISA Guidance’s critical infrastructure workforce categories, then they qualify for a critical sector worker exemption.

Second, if employees do not fall into one of categories listed in CISA Guidance, carefully review the governor’s Executive Order 20-20 for further guidance and additional categories of critical sector exempt workers.

Third, you can also determine eligibility for a critical sector worker exemption by searching by your 4-digit NAICS industry code via DEED’s website.

If a company’s employees fit into any of the categories in the above three resources, they are eligible for a critical sector worker exemption. Please note that Executive Order 20-20 requires all employees who can work from home to do so, even if they are eligible for a critical sector worker exemption. If an employee does not fit into any of the critical sector worker categories, then they must remain at home as directed in Executive Order 20-20.

If you still have questions about whether your employees are eligible for a critical worker exemption after using the resources above, please email CriticalSectors@state.mn.us, and the state will work with agency subject matter experts to review and respond as quickly as possible.

Since the Stay at Home order was issued, some industries have sought clarification from DEED. Some of the updates include:

  • Workers supporting arts and crafts stores are not exempted.
  • Workers supporting cannabidiol (CBD) oil shops are not exempted.
  • Workers supporting tobacco and vaping-product shops are not exempted.
  • Lawn care and landscaping workers are not exempted.
  • Workers supporting pet grooming businesses are not exempted.
  • Workers supporting licensed businesses that sell or service firearms are exempted, pursuant to Minnesota Statutes, section 624.7192. However, gun ranges and clubs should remain closed, pursuant to Executive Orders 20-04 and 20-18.

—Get more information on these critical worker determinations (pdf)

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