Wednesday, Gov. Tim Walz urged Minnesotans to voluntarily comply with his shelter in place order to slow the spread of the coronavirus across the state.

The order asks residents to stay at home and limit their time outside the home to trips for essential items, doctor’s appointments, socially distanced outdoor activities, caring for a loved one or work in job fields deemed exempt in the order.

“While the virus will still be here when this order ends, this action will slow the spread of COVID-19 and give Minnesota time to ready for battle,” said Walz.

As of March 26, at 2 p.m. there were 346 positive cases reported throughout the state, with 41 cases requiring hospitalization and two reported deaths. Walz said the order is an attempt to protect those most vulnerable including seniors and residents with underlying conditions, while still supporting some amount of economic activity.

Walz said if the state doesn’t take action, current models indicate the possibility of more than 70,000 Minnesotans losing their lives to COVID-19.

Some exempt employment fields include: health care, public safety, childcare, energy workers, water and wastewater workers, food and agricultural workers, news media and critical manufacturing.

The order went into effect Friday, March 27, at 11:59 p.m. and will last until at least April 10. Current restrictions on dine-in eating for bars and restaurants are extended to May 1.

Stores that will remain open under Walz’s order include: grocers, pharmacies, post offices, banks, funeral homes, food shelves as well as convenience, hardware and liquor stores.

Outdoor activities, as long as social distancing is practiced, are encouraged as they benefit the mind and body, Walz said. A list of suggested activities include any solitary recreational activity like: walking pets, hiking, running, biking, fishing and more.

Sen. Paul Gazelka R-Nisswa, responded to the order with concerns.

“I share the Governor’s concerns about the safety and well-being of all Minnesotans,” he said. “I also have grave concerns about the Governor’s statewide stay-at-home order, and the consequences for the families of Minnesota when their jobs and businesses that provide their livelihood are lost.”

Rep. Ron Kresha, R-Little Falls, also released a comment along with a list of local businesses he encourages people to support.

“I understand the stress, confusion and anxiety that many Minnesotans are feeling during this uncertain time. Please know that legislators at the state and federal level are working together to provide assistance to families and businesses. The Minnesota Legislature will be meeting tomorrow to pass additional COVID-19 response legislation,” he said.

Although education on the order will be focused on, if a citizen willfully violates the order they could face misdemeanor charges with sentencing including up to three months in jail or fines up to $1,000.

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