Opening Up More
by Greg Colby, Department Judge Advocate
A week ago, the Legionnaire for June came out and its lead article was an open letter to Governor Walz from our Department Commander, Mark Dvorak, asking the governor to open things up. The governor responded with Emergency Executive Order 20-74. The order permits indoor food and alcohol consumption. On page 8 of that 15-page order is a specific provision aimed at veterans and fraternal organizations. That provision states “veterans and fraternal organizations may lend gambling funds to their general fund accounts for up to one year to pay for allowable expenses necessary to reopen such organizations’ permitted premises as set forth in the guidance available at the Gambling Control Board’s website https://mn.gov/gcb/ Before re-opening your gambling operations, please review those regulations and statutes that apply to your post. Let’s keep up the good work of following the rules. And, there’s a whole lot more in the new Emergency Executive Order. So let’s go through it.
As I read it, para 7e addresses the need for non-critical businesses to prepare a COVID-19 Preparedness Plan. Each plan must provide for the businesses’ implementation of guidance for their specific industry. Requirements are laid out in Stay Safe Minnesota website (https://staysafe.mn.gov).
At a minimum, each Plan must adequately:
– ensure that all workers who can work from home continue to do so
– establish policies and procedures including health screenings that prevent sick workers from entering the workplace
– establish social distancing policies and procedures
– establish hygiene and source control policies for workers
– establish cleaning, disinfection, and ventilation protocols for areas within the workplace
– keep public and workers safe with physical distancing and limiting occupancy as set forth in Stay Safe Minnesota guidance
Para 7 c vi provides that occupancy of any indoor space must not exceed 50 percent of the normal occupant capacity as determined by the Fire Marshall with a maximum of 250 people in a single self-contained space.
The Stay Safe Minnesota Plan requires all bars and restaurants who wish to be open on June 10 and afterward to require 6 feet of distancing between customer and patron, establishments may not exceed 50% of their capacity and never to exceed 250 persons, reservations are required, and masks are required for workers. Customers are strongly encouraged to wear masks. Please refer to the Governor’s Stay Safe Plan and if you have questions, contact the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.
The order also contains guidance for the rest of us. The order addresses masks, at risk persons, travel, legislative and judicial gatherings, weddings and funerals, church services and enforcement. Let’s take them one by one.
Masks – the governor strongly encourages all of us to wear a face covering whenever we leave home and travel to any public setting where social distancing is difficult to maintain. He mentions as examples pharmacies and grocery stores.
At risk persons – if you are one of those individuals who is at risk of severe illness from COVID 19, you are strongly urged to stay home or stay at your residence. See at risk definition below.
Travel – consistent with federal guidance and to protect our neighbors, all of us are encouraged to stay close to home and we are strongly encouraged not to engage in unnecessary travel.
Legislative meetings are not affected by this order although remote meetings are strongly encouraged.
Judicial meetings and proceedings are not affected by this order. If you receive a subpoena or some other court order to attend a judicial proceeding, you have to show up.
Weddings and funerals – there need to be six feet of distancing between households. For indoor settings, occupancy must not exceed 50 percent of the normal occupant capacity as determined by the fire marshal with a maximum of 250 people in a single self-contained space. For outdoor events, 250 people is the maximum allowed.
Church Services – same as for weddings and funerals.
Enforcement – anyone who willfully disobeys the restrictions imposed by this new executive order is facing a misdemeanor charge with a maximum sentence of 90 days jail and/or a thousand dollar ($1000) fine. But note, the Attorney General as well as any city or county attorney may seek any civil relief available including a civil penalty up to $25,000 per occurrence.
At risk persons is defined in Emergency Executive Order 20-55 at paragraph 2. It states that at-risk persons include:
all those 65 years of age or older
those who live in nursing homes or long-term care facilities
those who suffer from chronic lung disease or severe and moderately to severe asthma
suffer from a serious heart condition
suffer from severe obesity (BMI of 40 or more)
suffer from diabetes
suffer from chronic kidney disease undergoing dialysis
those who are immune compromised
Let’s be careful out there. Things are loosening up a bit but not entirely. The public health authorities are telling us that the corona-virus will be with us for a long time. These restrictions will be with us for quite some time to come as well. We have helped to flatten the curve, but there’s still lots to do.