While much of the focus has been on his Stay at Home order, Gov. Tim Walz says many of Minnesota's major employers are preparing for a long haul through the coronavirus pandemic.
During his Monday press conference, Walz says that while some are eager to get back to business at the end of his Stay at Home order, some of the state's major employers are taking a more realistic look at when "normal" can resume.
The main date target they are looking at for a return to a semblance of "business as usual" is about 18 months from now, which is the outside prediction from the CDC on when a vaccine will be tested, approved and available.
While Gov. Walz says that keeping a Stay at Home order in place until a vaccine is ready is "unsustainable," but even when the order is lifted he warns that life won't automatically return to how it was, given that many people still won't feel comfortable working or going out and shopping/eating/entertaining as they once did without a vaccine in place.
"If people can't come to work, it doesn't matter if you're open or not," Walz said Monday.
"I think most of these retailers and businesses understand they’re going to have to change the way business is being done for about the next 18 months.
"They’re going to have to do that regardless of what a stay-at-home order looks like because people are naturally understanding that we’re going to have to social distance because their shopping and their retail buying experience is going to change dramatically."
"Businesses understand their customers and they are now looking at what it will take to get people back in stores, what it takes to open restaurants without vaccines," he added.
"I have been speaking to a major retailer, and they think it could be a long-time generational shift in how they view retail."
While some of Minnesota's major retailers like Target and Best Buy should make it through the pandemic, an 18-month recovery period is likely to spell more trouble for Minnesota's smaller businesses that run on tighter profit margins.
Last week, Gov. Walz said that some of the things that people enjoy the most – attending sporting and music events, eating and drinking in crowded bars and restaurants – are likely to be the last things that come back as he relaxes his community mitigation restrictions.
The current Stay at Home order expires on May 4, and Walz is hinting that it will be extended but with more modifications as he gradually allows more non-essential businesses to reopen with social distancing guidelines in place.
He describes it as "trying to thread the needle between public safety and smart, science-based reopening" that recognizes the "economic and mental health tolls" the shutdown is taking.