Your questions on the Minnesota stay-at-home order answered

By: , and - March 25, 2020 5:06 pm

Gov. Tim Walz on Wednesday announced a stay-at-home order on Facebook Live.

Why again are we doing this?

Gov. Tim Walz warned that if the state did nothing to slow the rate of COVID-19 infections, Minnesota’s death toll could rise to 74,000. The stay-at-home order is intended to buy Minnesota health officials time to build its intensive-care treatment capacity and ramp up testing.  

I’m running low on stress-eating supplies like Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. Can I still get groceries?

Yes. Grocery stores, convenience stores, farmers markets, food banks and bakeries may all remain open. Gov. Tim Walz had previously classified grocery store employees as “essential,” ensuring there are enough people working. Many stores are actually hiring additional employees and raising pay in order to ensure they have enough manpower to stock shelves and produce sections.

Ok, so food is covered. How about booze?

Yes. Walz told reporters on Wednesday that liquor stores will continue to stay open during the stay-at-home order. 

What else will be open?

  • Hospitals and clinics 
  • Pharmacies 
  • Laundromats
  • Dry cleaners
  • Banks
  • Gas stations
  • Bike shops
  • Child care centers
  • Hotels
  • Veterinarians
  • Emergency shelters
  • Hardware stores
  • Post offices 

Ok, so, everything?

No, not quite. Walz had previously ordered dine-in services at bars and restaurants closed. He extended the closure through May 1, a move that is likely to cause further economic pain for restaurant and bar owners and workers. Walz has previously said he is considering allowing restaurants and bars with kitchens to sell alcohol with takeout orders

Will restaurants still be allowed to offer delivery or take-out?


Can I leave my house to go on walks?

Yes. People can leave their homes for outdoor activities like walking, hiking, biking and hunting, as long as they stay 6 feet away from people from other households.

What other reasons can I leave my home for?

People can leave to attend medical or veterinary appointments, as well as visiting their pharmacy. People can also relocate due to unsafe conditions at home, including domestic violence or if their home is being sanitized. You can also leave if you are caring for others, which includes family members, friends or a pet in another household. People who are homeless can also move in between emergency shelters and encampments. The executive order specifies that homeless encampments cannot be disbanded by state or local governments. The state’s tribal nations are exempt under the executive order. 

Will public transportation still run?

Yes. Metro Transit began reducing service  Wednesday, partly in response to diminished ridership. The transit agency said riders should be traveling for essential reasons only and is urging people to follow social-distancing guidelines, as well as exiting through the back door of buses. It has also stopped bus and light-rail service from 11 p.m. to 4:30 a.m.. to ensure it has enough personnel working during peak travel times and to sanitize buses and train cars. 

Who can work outside the home?

Anyone who can work from home should do so, but workers in critical sectors are exempt from the order. Essential sectors and workers include:

  • Health care and public health
  • Law enforcement, public safety and first responders
  • Emergency shelters, congregate living facilities, drop-in centers
  • Child care
  • Food and agriculture
  • News media
  • Energy sector workers
  • Water and wastewater
  • Critical manufacturing
  • Construction workers

Is the Reformer “news media”?

You betcha!

What about schools? 

Walz issued a separate executive order for schools to transition to distance learning for the remainder of the school year. 

How will the order be enforced?

Walz said that for now, the focus will be more on education and less on enforcement. Although his executive order grants him the power to fine or jail people who are in violation, Walz stressed he is not looking to arrest Minnesotans who are violating the stay-at-home order. Minnesotans have already largely adhered to the recommended social-distancing guidelines, according to cellular data

Is travel into or out of Minnesota affected?

No. Under the executive order, travel in and out of the state is still permitted, but many airlines have recently cut capacity and routes as they adjust to the steep drop in air travel. 

What happens after April 10?

The stay-at-home order ends at 5 p.m. April 10, but bars, restaurants, gyms, museums and other facilities will stay closed until at least May 1. Schools will be closed until at least May 4.

Who can I call if I have questions about…. 


Call 1-800-657-3903 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. 

School and child care? 

Call 651-297-1304 or 1-800-657-3504 


Call 651-296-8215 for single-family residences and 651-297-4455 for apartment buildings. 


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Ricardo Lopez
Ricardo Lopez

Ricardo Lopez was a senior political reporter for the Reformer. Ricardo is not new to Minnesota politics, previously reporting on the Dayton administration and statehouse for The Star Tribune from 2014 to 2017, and the Republican National Convention in 2016. Previously, he was a staff writer at The Los Angeles Times covering the California economy. He's a Las Vegas native who has adopted Minnesota as his home state. In his spare time, he likes to run, cook and volunteer with Save-a-Bull, a Minneapolis dog rescue group.

Rilyn Eischens
Rilyn Eischens

Rilyn Eischens is a former data reporter for the Minnesota Reformer. Rilyn was born and raised in Minnesota and has worked in newsrooms in the Twin Cities, Iowa, Texas and most recently Virginia, where she covered education for The Staunton News Leader. She's an alumna of the Dow Jones News Fund data journalism program and the Minnesota Daily. When Rilyn isn't in the newsroom, she likes to read, add to her plant collection and try new recipes.

Max Nesterak
Max Nesterak

Max Nesterak is the deputy editor of the Reformer and reports on labor and housing. Most recently he was an associate producer for Minnesota Public Radio after a stint at NPR. He also co-founded the Behavioral Scientist and was a Fulbright Scholar to Berlin, Germany.