Walz: Decision on 'Stay at Home' extension expected midweek

The governor is considering tweaks to the order.
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Gov. Tim Walz says he's expecting to make a decision on whether to extend Minnesota's "Stay at Home" order by midweek.

Minnesota's current Stay at Home order expires this Friday, but the governor has indicated that he is considering extending it potentially to the end of April, given that the number of COVID-19 cases in Minnesota continues to rise.

He will base his decision on modeling of Minnesota's efforts to reduce the spread of the coronavirus, as well as conversations with large and small businesses and labor unions in the state.

There have been calls for Walz to allow, for example, golf courses to operate during the state's community mitigation and social distancing efforts, with Minnesota Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka among those calling for businesses involving outdoor activities be allowed to resume.

"I know the unknowns in this make it so frustrating to endure," Walz said. "We have been deliberate in our thinking, we have been thinking about ways to look at it and tweak it."

"We're assessing sector by sector, line by line as we look at the extension to the Stay at Home order. We're in agreement with the need to get people working as fast as we can, but the virus dictates this and we need to be creative about it."

He added: "We don't want to set up false hope this is going to be over quicker, but at the same time we don't want to do it too far out. We have to strike a proper balance and have data and facts support us."

Walz says that based on the data he's seeing, Minnesotans have been good at social distancing compared to surrounding states in most areas, but one areas it has not been good at is "in recreation areas."

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It comes after concerns raised in recent weeks about crowding at parks in Minneapolis, for example, while Edina recently had to issue a ban on group activities after multiple reports of team sports being played despite recommendations against large gatherings.

The calls to let at least some sectors of business resume comes as Minnesota is preparing itself to take a financial hit to its tax revenues given so much of the state's commerce is being impacted by the shutdown.

While Minnesota has money in reserve thanks to years of saving, Minnesota Management and Budget (MMB) Commissioner Myron Frans said last week that the state could possibly run a budget deficit despite having projected a $1.5 billion prior to the COVID-19 crisis.

Gov. Walz admitted that the state would have to balance its budget given the impending lack of revenues.

"We want to get back to business as soon as possible, and I want to be clear if i thought it was healthy and I didn't think this would spread, I would open tomorrow."

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