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Coronavirus: Gov. Tim Walz signs 4 more executive orders

One will suspend evictions during the state's peacetime emergency.

Gov. Tim Walz has signed 4 new executive orders to help Minnesotans cope with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and associated economic shutdown.

The orders were announced shortly before his 2 p.m. media call, and among them is an order suspending evictions during the peacetime emergency, effective from 5 p.m. on Tuesday.

The order suspends the ability for property owners, mortgage holders, or others entitled to "recover residential premises" after Mar. 1, 2020, to file an eviction action until the peacetime emergency is over. 

This order doesn't relieve a tenant's obligation to pay rent, and property owners can still evict tenants if they "seriously endanger the safety of other residents" or for unlawful activities.

In his order, Walz says that housing insecurity associated with the involuntary unemployment, extended sickness or mandatory quarantine during the outbreak is "the subject of general concern."

"Losing a home is catastrophic at any time, and during the COVID-19 peacetime emergency in particular, losing housing endangers the public peace, health, and safety of all Minnesotans," he said.

The other three orders are as follows:

Establish peacetime emergency loans for small businesses: This will see a forgivable loan program developed to award grants to nonprofit corporations that in turn will fund forgivable loans to small businesses. 

The minimum loan is $2,500 and the maximum is $35,000, and under the terms of the program up to 50 percent of the loan can be forgiven if the DEED commissioner approves and the business remains operating in the community "at substantially the same levels for two years following loan disbursement."

Direct non-hospital entities to conduct an inventory of personal protective equipment (PPE): Any Minnesota business, nonprofit, or non-hospital healthcare favility (ie. veterinary, dental, research, higher educatio institute) in possession of PPE, ventilators, respirators, or anesthesia machines that aren't required to provide critical or essential services must undertake an inventory of supplies by Mar. 25. 

Order that clarifies that Executive Order 20-09 on elective surgeries and procedures applies to veterinarians:  The suspension on elective procedures and surgeries that goes into effect at 5 p.m. Monday now includes veterinary procedures, though veterinarians can still carry out procedures in certain circumstances if it's deemed necessary for the health or safety of the animal's owner (ie. a service animal) or to the animal itself. This suspension of non-essential procedures is being put in place to free up capacity within the state's health systems and also preserve PPE or ventilators.

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Also on Monday, Gov. Walz has issued a revised supplemental budget that will allocate an extra $356 million towards the state's COVID-19 response.

The bill, which has to be ratified by the Legislature, would "provide emergency grants to child care centers; support families struggling financially through the Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP); support veterans and their families facing financial burdens; increase funding for food shelves; offer small business loans; and increase resources for Minnesotans struggling with homelessness.

"The budget would also create a COVID-19 Minnesota Fund that would give the state government the resources necessary to deploy resources and respond to the needs of Minnesotans in real time."

The money for this will come from the state's projected $1.5 billion budget surplus.

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