In a statewide address Wednesday night, Gov. Tim Walz said the current stay-at-home order will expire at midnight Monday.
In making his announcement, Walz issued a safer at home order. He noted that Minnesota’s receptiveness to social distancing has allowed the state to build enough hospital capacity to deal with COVID-19 cases.
“We’ve successfully pushed out and reduced the peak of this virus,” he stated. “We’ve made great progress to ensure we can treat Minnesotans who fall ill.”
Walz also mentioned the state’s effort to increase testing, noting that more than 6,700 tests were recorded Wednesday.
Under the revised plan, non-critical businesses such as retail stores that have safety measures can reopen with 50% capacity, and people can gather in groups of less than 10.
The move comes amid recent warnings from public health officials who say easing restrictions too soon could lead to new coronavirus outbreaks.
The Minnesota Nurses Association expressed concern about the governor’s action, citing gear and capacity issues at hospitals.
“With the lapse in the ‘Stay at Home’ order and the move to a less restrictive ‘Stay Safe’ order, the Minnesota Nurses Association urges state officials, hospital administrators, and all Minnesotans to protect healthcare workers and each other by increasing our supply of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), dramatically expanding capacity for COVID-19 virus testing, and continuing to social distance. Failure to protect each other will result in a dramatic spike in positive cases, overload hospitals, and cause the very caregivers we need to succumb to the virus themselves.”
Minnesota AFL-CIO President Bill McCarthy issued the following statement in response to Governor Tim Walz’s Executive Order protecting workers who report safety issues from employer retaliation:
“As Minnesota’s economy slowly reopens during this pandemic, it is vital that workers are empowered to report unsafe working conditions and to refuse to work without loss of income if they have not been provided proper protections or training to do their jobs safely.
The simple truth is that our economy cannot rebound unless employers are held accountable to implement safety measures to protect both workers and public health. Failing to do so would result in more workers falling sick and even more economic damage.
We thank Governor Walz for continuing to actively seek the input of Minnesota’s Labor Movement during the peacetime emergency.”
In his address, Walz warned that the state might go back to tighter restrictions if outbreaks flare up again.
“This situation’s fluid,” he stressed. “There’s much we still don’t know about this virus. And as I said previously, we must be prepared to dial back if needed.”
Walz said customers who go to stores that are allowed to reopen should wear masks. He also said bars, dine-in restaurants and salons remain closed, but the state is working on a plan for them to possibly reopen in a phased approach beginning June 1st.
We will update this article as responses come in.
With contributions from Mike Moen at Minnesota News Service.