by Scott McClallen
Gov. Tim Walz today outlined steps forward for Minnesota’s COVID-19 response.
Walz announced a plan on Thursday afternoon that will allow up to 100,000 people, or about 20,000 businesses, to safely return to work Monday.
Executive Order 20-40 applies to certain non-critical businesses, including industrial, manufacturing, and office settings. Those businesses are allowed to open because they have a highly predictable and small workplace setting compared to some customer-facing companies.
Individual businesses in those categories each decide if they want to return to the office.
Walz said a collaboration with businesses, worker industries, and public health experts developed the plan.
The stay home order is still active until May 4.
Walz also signed Executive Order 20-41 to cancel in-person school for the rest of the 2019-2020 school year.
He previously shut down in-person schools on March 15.
“As a former teacher, this is a heartbreaking decision,” Walz said. “I am sorry for all of our students who will miss out on graduations, tournaments, and end of year celebrations. While I recognize distance learning is a challenge for many families, it is critical to social distancing in Minnesota and supports the health of Minnesota’s families. We will continue looking for ways to improve the current system and better support our children.”
Walz said he hadn’t made any decisions yet regarding the next school year.
Department of Employment and Economic Development Commissioner Steve Grove said that more than 536,000 Minnesotans have applied for unemployment benefits, more than applied in the Great Recession.
But this order will start getting some of them back to work.
“This is a limited first step in the process of safely reopening some businesses and returning Minnesotans to work,” Grove said. “We will continue to listen to and seek input from business and community leaders and work with public health experts on creative solutions to put more people back to work as safely and quickly as possible.”
Prior to loosening restrictions for a given setting, businesses must:
- Create, share, and implement a COVID-19 Preparedness Plan, including actions they are taking to ensure social distancing, worker hygiene, and facility cleaning;
- Engage in health screening of employees and ensure sick employees stay home; and
- Continue to work from home whenever possible.
The state set up a website to answer questions.
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Scott McClallen is a staff writer covering Michigan and Minnesota for The Center Square. A graduate of Hillsdale College, his work has appeared on Forbes.com and FEE.org. Previously, he worked as a financial analyst at Pepsi.
Photo “Tim Walz” by KARE 11.