MN Government Updates 06.05

Walz Announces Gradual Re-Opening of Indoor Dining, Gyms, Entertainment Venues

Governor Tim Walz today announced Phase III of the Stay Safe MN plan, including a gradual turn of the dial to allow cautious and safe re-opening of indoor dining, gyms, and entertainment venues beginning Wednesday, June 10, 2020. Customers and employees will be either strongly recommended or required to wear masks and will be required to adhere to appropriate social distancing measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“Thank you, Minnesotans, for the sacrifices you’ve made to slow the spread of COVID-19,” Governor Walz said. “Thanks to your dedication, we are now in a position to carefully turn the dial toward reopening society. As we move forward, it is more important than ever that we each do our part as we trust and rely on each other to keep our state safe.”

Limited re-opening of dine-in restaurants, gyms, and entertainment venues can begin on Wednesday, June 10. Occupancy rates will be limited based on risk, with an overall occupancy maximum of 250 people. All critical businesses are required to develop and implement a COVID-19 Preparedness Plan by June 29, and the Department of Health (MDH), Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED), and Department of Labor and Industry (DLI) will publish industry guidance by June 15.

Under Phase III of the Stay Safe MN plan:

  • Restaurants can begin offering indoor dining while maintaining social distancing, requiring reservations, and seating no more than 50 percent occupancy.
  • Indoor social gatherings can take place with 10 people or less; outdoor social gatherings can take place with 25 people or less.
  • Gyms, personal fitness and yoga studios, and martial arts may open at 25 percent capacity.
  • Indoor entertainment venues, such as theaters and concert halls, can open at 25 percent capacity.
  • Recreational indoor entertainment venues, such as bowling alleys, arcades, and museums may open at 25 percent capacity.
  • Personal services, such as salons, tattoo parlors, and barbershops, may increase occupancy rates to 50 percent while requiring reservations.
  • Outdoor entertainment venues, such as sporting events, concerts, and theaters may open at 25 percent capacity.
  • Places of worship can increase occupancy rates to 50 percent.

Since the start of Minnesota’s COVID-19 peacetime emergency, the State of Minnesota has prepared for a gradual re-opening by working with the health care sector to expand health care capacity and procure ICU beds, ventilators, and personal protective equipment.

“This safe, steady reopening cannot happen without the commitment and vigilance of all Minnesotans to protect themselves and each other against COVID-19,” said Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan. “We must continue wearing masks, washing hands, staying six feet apart, and working from home when possible. Those practices bought us time to learn about and prepare for the virus – and they will keep us safe during this next phase of our response.”

On May 13, Governor Walz replaced Minnesota’s Stay Home order with a Stay Safe order as Minnesota continues to safely turn the dial back toward normal life. The Stay Safe Plan includes metrics that could trigger a dial back dial back based on the rate of testing, new cases, hospitalizations, and deaths. Governor Walz has stressed the importance of reopening cautiously and strategically.

“As we face the likelihood of many more months of this disease spreading at various levels in our communities, we must find a way to live with it – accepting a certain level of risk while taking steps to prevent a wave of cases overwhelming our health care sector,” said MDH Commissioner Jan Malcolm. “The goal is to find a proper balance of protections in a way that promotes the best interests of our state. That’s the balance we’re seeking here today.”

Restaurants, salons, and barbershops have been able to offer limited service since June 1. Takeout, curbside, and delivery services have been permitted throughout the pandemic in Minnesota.

“We have asked so much of Minnesota businesses over the past few months, and we recognize what a dire situation many have found themselves in,” said DEED Commissioner Steve Grove. “Today’s announcement is another important step on our journey to safely reopening our state to make economic growth possible. As more businesses begin to reopen and Minnesotans return to more activities we enjoy, we know the risks of possible COVID-19 transmission also increase. It is more important than ever that all Minnesotans do their part to protect themselves and others, and help our state’s businesses remain open by wearing masks, staying six feet apart, and staying home if you feel sick.”

Gazelka Press Conference

This morning, Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R-East Gull Lake) held a press conference with reporters to discuss a variety of issues – including an agenda for a June 12 special session.

  • Senator Gazelka said he is focused on a bonding bill with more resources for Minneapolis and St. Paul in response to recent community destruction.
  • He is also focused on tax relief, business grants with a focus on women, minority, and veteran owned businesses, and COVID-19 money to help local governments.
  • Issues relating to criminal justice reform and education choice will be discussed. However, those proposals will be developed in working groups through hearings and will not be part of a shorter June special session.
  • Senator Gazelka also expects the Senate to vote to remove the governor’s emergency powers. In order for this to take effect, the DFL-controlled Minnesota House would also have to take the same action.

Amos A. Briggs | Government Relations
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