MN Government Updates 04.17

Walz Expands Outdoor Recreation Opportunities

Governor Tim Walz today issued Executive Order 20-38, which expands allowable outdoor recreational activities. The changes will allow Minnesotans to continue to enjoy the outdoors close to home while following social distancing guidelines.

Executive Order 20-38 allows Minnesotans to engage in a range of activities, including golfing, boating, fishing, hunting, and hiking, as long as they follow new outdoor recreation guidelines. These guidelines include maintaining 6-foot social distancing, avoiding crowded areas, and staying close to home.

Under Executive Order 20-38, facilities that may reopen or remain open include:

  • Bait shops for live bait
  • Outdoor shooting ranges and game farms
  • Public and private parks and trails
  • Golf courses and driving ranges
  • Boating and off-highway vehicle services, including:
  • Marina services
  • Dock installation and other lake services
  • Boat and off-highway vehicle sales and repair, by appointment only
  • Campgrounds and dispersed camping, outdoor recreational equipment retail stores, recreational equipment rental, charter boats, launches, and guided fishing remain closed.

Minnesotans should continue to take part in outdoor activities close to their primary residence. Staying home helps protect Minnesotans from spreading COVID-19 and limits pressure on rural medical facilities and essential supplies.

These new provisions will go into effect on Saturday, April 18 at 5:00 a.m.

Walz Daily Press Briefing

This afternoon, Governor Walz and other officials held a press conference to update the public on state efforts to address the COVID-19 pandemic.

Governor Walz

  • Governor Walz discussed the compact among Midwest governors to share best practices as to how to smartly re-open the economy. The four principles of reopening the economy will be based on:
  • Sustained control of the rate of new infections and hospitalizations
  • Enhanced ability to test and trace
  • Sufficient health care capacity to handle resurgence
  • Best practices for social distancing in the workplace
  • The governor mentioned that he spoke with executive and labor leaders of the JBS pork plant in Worthington as well as the mayor to discuss the positive cases of COVID-19 that have been showing up. Plant management is continuing operations and getting personal protective equipment to workers. Walz said his administration is reaching out to other food processing plants to address health and safety issues in the workplace.
  • When asked about President Trump’s “Liberate Minnesota” tweet and the protestors outside the Governor’s Residence, Walz responded that he had tried to call President Trump and Vice President Pence earlier in the day to get clarification on what was meant by the tweet and would like to know from President Trump what he thinks Minnesota should be doing differently. As it relates to the protestors, the governor responded that if they are protesting staying at home, they are protesting first responders as well.
  • When asked if there is a holdup in the production of testing by the University of Minnesota and Mayo Clinic, Walz responded that there isn’t a holdup. He said a plan needs to be developed and could be paid for by the COVID-19 fund authorized by the legislature. He suggested that Worthington may be a place to do initial testing.
  • When asked about the phasing-in of getting businesses back to work, Walz responded that big sporting events, crowded restaurants and bars, and big parties are the last things that will be phased back. “I don’t think we’ll see sports stadium being filled up immediately. We’ll roll them out slowly,” he said.

Commissioner Jan Malcolm, Department of Health

  • Commissioner Malcolm announced 2,071 laboratory confirmed cases of COVID-19.
  • There have been an additional 17 fatalities associated with COVID-19. This brings the state total to 111.
  • Currently, 233 patients are hospitalized for COVID-19. 106 of those patients are in the ICU.
  • The commissioner also provided more details relating to the JBS pork processing facility in Worthington.
  • There are at least 30 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the Worthington area. Seven of those cases are associated with JBS currently.
  • Local public health and local emergency management are involved.
  • Currently, efforts are underway to identify those who are ill and isolate them.
  • The goal is to help the plant operate safely and to avoid closure of the plant.

Dr. John Hick, Medical Director for Emergency Preparedness of Hennepin County Medical Center

  • Dr. Hick is the manager for the state healthcare coordination center and is working with private and public entities to bring the right strategies and resources to the state to combat COVID-19.
  • He said his goal is for the state to have a consistent level of care provides to Minnesotans regardless of where they live.
  • Dr. Hick also said he wants to make sure long-term care residents are provides with the level of care they need in safe environment that protects them and other residents.
  • The state currently has 1,300 ICU beds and 2,082 ventilators.
  • He noted that the state has bought time in an unprecedented way to build out a plan to prepare for a surge in hospitalizations.
  • Dr. Hick also reminded Minnesotans that the emergency care system remains available for those with non-COVID-19 health emergencies.

Mary Turner, President of MN Nurses Association

  • Turner is an ICU nurse at North Memorial Medical Center and provided an overview of the ICU situation at that hospital.
  • She thanked Minnesotans for abiding by social distancing guidelines since that have prevented hospitals from being over-run with COVID-19.
  • Turner praised Governor Walz’s leadership during this pandemic.

House Passes Takeout Wine & Beer Bill

Today, the House convened at 12:00 p.m. to pass Senate File 4489. This legislation, authored in the House by Representative Laurie Halverson (DFL-Eagan), allows restaurants and bars which hold on-sale liquor licenses to make off-sales of beer, hard seltzer, cider, and wine in limited quantities with a prepared food take-out order. This would only be permitted during the time that the governor’s executive order closing bar and restaurants to dine-in customers is in effect. This bill passed 129-1. Governor Walz has said he will signed the bill immediately. It takes effect the day after it is signed.

The House is scheduled to return on Tuesday, April 28, but can return sooner if House leadership decides it’s necessary. Meanwhile, the Senate is scheduled to return on Monday, April 20 at 11:00 a.m.

Amos A. Briggs | Government Relations
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