'Stay Safe MN': New order to allow small social gatherings, retail stores to reopen at 50% capacity

In a speech Wednesday night, Gov. Tim Walz announced he would let the previous stay-at-home order expire Sunday and replace it with an order allowing for gatherings of friends and family of 10 or fewer people and allowing retail stores to reopen with a maximum capacity of 50 percent. 

Walz called the move a "cautious turn of the dial" in his speech. The new order still encourages Minnesotans to stay close to home and directs Minnesotans with serious illnesses and the elderly to continue sheltering at home.

"We know the safest place we can be is at home, but we can't continue like this forever," he said. 

Along with the announcement of the "Stay Safe MN" order, Walz said he has directed his staff to issue guidance on how restaurants, bars and salons can reopen on June 1. He said more guidance will be made available to those businesses ahead of that date. The Governor said those reopenings will coincide with an increase in testing, tracing and isolating the virus in Minnesota. 

Gov. Tim Walz released a new graphic Wednesday showing his administration's plans for reopening the state during the COVID-19 pandemic.

By allowing retail businesses and malls to reopen to customers, the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development estimates 37,000 more people can return to work next week. 

The Governor also extended his peacetime emergency authority until June 12. The peacetime emergency was set to expire Wednesday. By law, the governor has to extend his emergency declaration every 30 days to have the authority to close businesses, order people to shelter at home, and carry out dozens of other executive orders he's signed over the past two months. Lawmakers would have to formally vote to end the emergency, which is unlikely with a divided state Legislature.

For all Minnesotans, Walz asks:

  • Work from home if you can
  • Wear masks when you shop
  • Stay close to home
  • Gather in groups of 10 or less, and keep six feet apart
  • Get tested if you have symptoms, and stay home if you're sick


March 6: MDH confirms first case of COVID-19 in Minnesota

March 11: World Health Organization declares outbreak of COVID-19 a pandemic

March 13: Gov. Walz declares peacetime state of emergency, recommending all large gathering be canceled or postponed 

March 15: MDH confirms first COVID-19 cases caused by community spread 

March 17: Gov. Walz orders dine-in restaurants, bars, hair salons and other public attractions to close 

March 18: All public schools in Minnesota close 

March 27: Stay-at-home order goes into effect, set to expire on April 10

April 8: Gov. Walz extends stay-at-home order until May 4 

April 13: Gov. Walz extends peacetime emergency through May 13

April 24: Gov. Walz closes schools for remainder of academic year

April 27: Some non-essential industrial and manufacturing businesses allowed to reopen

April 30: Gov. Walz extends stay-at-home order until May 18