(Mankato, MN) – Now in effect, Minnesota’s Stay at Home order has residents questioning what qualifies as an “essential need,” and whether police will enforce the order.
Governor Tim Walz announced the order Wednesday, effective at 11:59 p.m. Friday. The order allows Minnesotans to leave their homes to pick up essential items or spend time outdoors. Essential employees can travel to and from work.
What is essential?
Guidelines from the governor’s office say Minnesotans can still make grocery trips, stop at food banks, farmer’s markets, and convenience stores. Liquor stores, funeral homes, banks, gas stations, and hardware stores are all considered essential services. The state legislature and post office will continue to operate.
Bars, restaurants, and gyms have been closed since March 17, but Walz announced Wednesday he would extend the order to last until May 1 at 5 p.m. Salons, movie theaters, museums, and concert halls have also been deemed non-essential.
How will the order be enforced?
Brown County Sheriff Jason Seidl and New Ulm Police Chief Dave Borchert said in a joint press release that their departments are getting calls inquiring how the order will be enforced.
“The Executive order is certainly part of our responsibilities and will be diligently enforced;” says the joint release. “however, law enforcement will be following the same enforcement procedures as in the past, which requires meeting certain levels of proof to execute action.”
The release says all law enforcement agencies are required to enforce the order, and any violations are a misdemeanor. The goals remain the same, the release says: to deter crime, attempt to deter motor vehicle crashes, and keep roadways and residents safe.
Seidl and Borchert said there are three frequent questions fielded by Brown County and New Ulm departments,. The shared their answers on the release:
Q: Can I travel?
A: Yes. The order permits people to travel for many reasons, including “driving for pleasure.”
Q: Do we need documentation that we are an essential or critical employee?
A: This isn’t required, but having some type of form or business card might be helpful for employees to better define their job responsibility. Contact information is recommended the officer can use to follow up. Most employers are recommending employees use their supervisor or a Human Resources rep for contact inquiries.
Q: Can we be outside?
A: Yes. Governor Walz encouraged people to be active and his order allows residents to walk, jog, ride their bicycle, visit public parks and recreation lands, go for a car ride, or hunt and fish. Make sure to observe the six-foot social distancing rule.
The order will remain effect until Friday, April 10.