Minnesotans, prepare to continue hunkereing down until May 4.
Gov. Tim Walz on Wednesday extended his stay-at-home order for three weeks, telling Minnesotans to stay at home except for essential business or errands.
“Our intention is to save every life in this,” Walz said, adding that “The only vaccine we have right now is social distancing.”
Walz’s announcement came just two days before his initial stay-at-home order was set to expire. He walked through an extensive presentation showing how the additional time could ensure Minnesota’s hospitals can procure the ventilators and personal protective equipment needed to treat the state’s projected COVID-19 surge.
There were some minor tweaks to the new executive order that made exemptions for certain workers who could more easily keep distance between employees, including those in lawn and landscaping as well as those supporting the floral, nursery or medical cannabis industries. Additionally, workers supporting “businesses that sell or service firearms” can keep working while gun ranges and clubs should remain closed.
Following Walz’s announcement, Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-East Gull Lake, renewed his call for the governor to lift the stay-at-home order.
“It is welcome news some businesses can open up and safely resume work, even as the stay at home order is extended,” Gazelka said. “I will continue to share the feedback I get with the Governor as he makes these decisions.”
Walz also said his commissioners would begin assessing ways they can open other businesses without endangering their goal of slowing the spread of COVID-19.
House DFL Speaker Melissa Hortman, DFL-Brooklyn Park, in a statement supported the latest pronouncement by Walz.
“Governor Walz and his team have done an excellent job following the data and making strong decisions to protect Minnesotans,” she said. “Today’s extended Stay at Home order is no different. I strongly encourage Minnesotans to stay home as much as you can, maintain social distancing, and wear a mask when in public.”
The calls for a quicker reopening of businesses also came from some DFLers, including state Sen. Melisa Franzen, DFL-Edina.
“I thank the governor for considering small businesses like lawn care services in his newest executive order, but I urge him to consider other small businesses that can still be open safely,” Franzen said.
“As a small business owner, I understand the gravity of the situation that many members of our community are facing as their businesses continue to be shuttered. I support a sensible approach to re-opening ‘low-risk’ businesses to provide a greater sense of security to those in our business community currently facing uncertainty.”