What is considered 'essential' during shelter at home orders?

States and metropolitan counties across the United States are issuing shelter-in-place orders in an effort to combat the spread of COVID-19 and those orders are creating a clearer picture of what a similar order would look like in Minnesota.

Minnesota has not made a shelter-in-place order as of Tuesday afternoon. In his daily briefing, Gov. Tim Walz said his team is not yet ready to make such a declaration. He said his team is still reviewing statistical models of ICU capacity and the spread of COVID-19 to determine if that is necessary in Minnesota. 

"The modeling shows there may be a smarter and more targeted way [than shelter in place]," Walz said in the briefing Tuesday. 

Last week, the Governor did issue an order closing bars, restaurants and many other businesses that offer in-person services for patrons. 

Across the border, Wisconsin’s “Safer at Home” order goes into effect Wednesday morning at 8 a.m.

Under that order, Wisconsinites can leave home for groceries, health care, outdoor activities, to take care of others (or pets) or if they work in a list of 26 different industries. Those industries include:

  • Homeland security
  • Grocery stores and pharmacies
  • Restaurants offering take-out or delivery
  • Breweries, wineries, distilleries offering take-out
  • Childcare settings
  • Charities and social services
  • Religious entities
  • Media
  • Gas stations, auto repair shops, bike shops, etc.
  • Financial institutions and banks
  • Hardware and supply stores
  • Plumbers, electricians, carpenters and other “critical trades”
  • Mail, post and shipping services
  • Laundry services
  • Work from home supplies businesses
  • Transportation like airlines, taxis, rideshares and car rentals
  • Home care for seniors and those with disabilities
  • Professional services like legal, accounting, insurance and real estate
  • Hotels and motels
  • Higher education institutions for distance learning and critical research

Michigan has also issued a shelter at home order prohibiting businesses from requiring workers to leave their homes unless they are necessary to sustain or protect life or to conduct minimum basic operations.

Workers that are necessary to sustain or protect life include those in health care and public health, law enforcement and public safety, grocery store workers and more.

Michiganders can also leave home to engage in outdoor activities like walking, running, cycling or other recreation consistent with social distancing guidelines.

While the state of Texas has not issued a statewide shelter at home order, Dallas County, Texas has.

Under its order, Dallas County residents are asked to only leave home for essential activities like doctor’s appointments or grocery shopping. Everyone who works in Dallas County is encouraged to work from home, with only essential employees (health care, public works, banks and public transportation) exempt from that order.