Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz announced during his Wednesday press briefing that he is issuing a statewide shelter-in-place order to combat the spread of the coronavirus.
The stay-at-home order, as the governor is calling it, will go into effect at midnight Friday and will remain in effect until 5:00 p.m. on April 10.
“What our objective is now is to move the infection rate or slow it down and buy time,” Walz said during the press conference. The governor noted that the order won’t necessarily reduce the infection rate, but will postpone the peak of the outbreak while the state prepares.
Walz said the main scenario the state wants to avoid is one in which intensive care units run out beds before the epidemic reaches its peak.
He repeatedly emphasized that the order will provide the state with time to build out its hospital capacity, increase access to ventilators, increase testing, and address the shortage of personal protective equipment.
“This does not mean you don’t step out of your house,” he said.
The executive order limits movement outside the home to essential activity, which is defined as health and safety activity, outdoor activities, seeking necessary supplies and services, essential and interstate travel, care of others, displacement, and relocation to ensure safety.
In other words, residents can still go to the grocery store, gas stations, and medical appointments and exercise outdoors.
Workers in industries that provide “critical services” are exempt from the order. These industries include health care, law enforcement, public safety, first responders, child care, food and agriculture, media, energy, water and wastewater, and critical manufacturing.
Walz said his executive order closing bars, restaurants, and other places of public accommodation will now remain in effect through May 1.
The Minnesota Department of Education has implemented a distance learning period beginning March 30 and lasting until May 4.
“We must take bold action to save the lives of Minnesotans,” Gov. Walz said in a statement. “Having served as a Command Sergeant Major in the Army National Guard, I know the importance of having a plan. While the virus will still be here when this order ends, this action will slow the spread of COVID-19 and give Minnesota time to ready for battle.”
As of Wednesday afternoon, Minnesota had 287 confirmed COVID-19 cases, one death, and 35 hospitalizations.
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