Gov. Tim Walz has announced he will extend his peacetime emergency powers by another month, but will allow the state's Stay at Home order to expire on Monday.
The peacetime emergency will extend to June 12, but the Stay at Home order will expire on Monday.
The end of the order comes a month-and-a-half after it was first enacted. However, businesses that involve moderate to large gatherings or close one-to-one contact – such as restaurants, bars, and salons – will have to wait until June 1 to open.
But non-essential retail stores will now be allowed to re-open at 50 percent capacity as of Monday, provided they have safety plans in place. At this stage, there's no word on church services resuming.
The end of the Stay at Home order will also allow a loosening of social contact, with Walz saying that gatherings smaller than 10 people will be permitted.
But he referenced the state's recent "D" grade for social distancing by Unacast, saying it's "not acceptable," and says people should work from home when they can, wear masks when they're out, and stay close to home.
"We first asked you to stay home ... now we're asking you to stay safe," he said.
The announcement came on the same day that the Minnesota Department of Health released its latest models that predicts that Minnesota's death toll from COVID-19 will be higher than previously estimated because Minnesotans have not been social distancing as effectively as assumed.
But with the state now having the capacity to handle a surge in COVID-19 cases, Walz says the state can now "turn the dial" while keeping people safe, still calling on people to socially distance, wear masks, and not linger in stores.
The re-opening of restaurants, bars, and salons will come with further guidance between now and June 1.
"This will coincide with a significant increase in testing, tracing, and isolating the virus in the state," the governor said.
He has also warned that restrictions could come back in if there's a spike in cases.
The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development estimates that this change to retail will allow 37,000 more Minnesotans to return to work next week.
However, Walz has also signed an executive order putting protections in place so that businesses can't retaliate against workers who take extra safety precautions at work, who raise concerns about safety conditions, or who refuse to work as they believe their working conditions presents imminent danger of death or serious physical harm.
“Minnesotans, thank you for your continued sacrifices,” he said. “You have saved thousands of lives. You successfully pushed out the peak of this virus and bought our state time to get ready to treat those who fall ill. We know there’s no stopping the storm of COVID-19 from hitting Minnesota, but we have made great progress to prepare for it.”
“This is not the time for sudden movements," he continued. "We are not flipping a switch and going back to normal all at once. We are slowly moving a dial and introducing more interaction between people over time. As we take cautious steps forward, it is more important than ever that we protect those most at risk, support workers, and all do our part to slow the spread of the virus."