Cook County: Minnesota's stay-at-home order not a recommendation, warns vacationers to stay away

SUPERIOR HIKING TRAIL, MN - JUNE 19, 2018: The 1.6 mile Cakewalk north of Grand Marais is the only section of trail that runs along the shore of Lake Superior outside of the Duluth Lake Walk. Here, Melanie McManus hikes the rocky shore of Lake Superi (Brian Peterson/Star Tribune via Getty Images / Getty Images)

Officials in Cook County in northern Minnesota are reminding residents, as well as tourists and people who own vacation homes the area, that the governor’s stay-at-home order is not a recommendation. 

Last week, the Cook County Board of Commissioners issued a travel advisory asking visitors not to come to the area during the COVID-19 pandemic due to the county’s limited health care infrastructure. Anyone who does come to the county is advised to self-quarantine for 14 days once they arrive. Since then, Gov. Tim Walz has issued a stay-at-home order prohibiting nonessential travel in the state for the next two weeks. 

Stay home and don't go to your cabin, says northern Minnesota county

Amid the stressful times due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it may be tempting for Minnesotans to want to escape to the cabin. But at least one county up north is advising people to stay put.

“It is important to understand that Executive Order 20-20, the ‘Stay at Home’ order, is mandatory,” Cook County Attorney Molly Hicken wrote in an article for County Connections, a column on timely topics and service information from the county government. “This is unlike the ‘Travel Advisory’ issued by the Cook County Board of Commissioners which remains in place as a recommendation.” 

Hicken said the Cook County Sheriff’s Office is authorized to enforce the governor’s stay-at-home order and is prepared to respond to calls for service related to reported violations of the order. Law enforcement’s primary role will be educating the public about the order and asking for voluntary compliance, but violators may be charged by complaint or citation with a misdemeanor offense. 

The county has a larger than average population of senior citizens who are especially vulnerable to the coronavirus and “extremely limited” medical facilities, Hicken said. 

“Cook County’s priority is keeping its residents safe and healthy,” Hicken said. “In these times, we ask that you consider not just your own health, but the health of your community, each time you step outside your door.”

Cook County makes up the upper northeast corner of Minnesota and shares a border with Canada. The county is home to the city of Grand Marais as well as the Lutsen Ski Resort, both popular North Shore destinations.