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Sparks: Moving state forward safely

By Dan Sparks

On Wednesday Governor Walz addressed the state with important information for Minnesota’s next steps in our response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Minnesotans have slowed the spread of this virus and built up the capacity for our health care system to respond. Most importantly our testing capacity has grown, ensuring anyone who wants a test can get one. This is why Minnesota is moving to the next phase of our response.

The stay-at-home order expires on Monday, May 18. Once it ends, most retail businesses will open at half capacity under safety guidelines. Small social gatherings of ten or fewer people will be allowed. Businesses must have a plan in place to protect their employees and customers, including requiring people to work from home when possible, establishing social distancing procedures, plus hygiene and sanitation controls.

A plan will be in place by Wednesday, May 20 for restaurants, bars, and other businesses to open, with a tentative date for their opening on June 1. I want to thank the Governor and his team for their continued leadership during this crisis, and for their measured approach to keeping Minnesotans safe. We are not completely out of the woods yet, but our state has made and continues to make solid progress in this fight.

The legislature is in the final days of what has become the most unusual legislative session in our state’s history. In the interest of the health of the public, staff, and legislators we have continued to meet virtually, allowed remote voting options, and taken other steps to mitigate risk of exposure to COVID-19. What remained constant this year was our commitment to getting our work done. We moved quickly to address immediate issues such as funding for our frontline health care workers, as well as taking steps to provide economic support for our small businesses and workers throughout the state.

As we make the final push this weekend to wrap up our business before adjournment on May 18, please don’t hesitate to reach out to my office with any questions, concerns, or comments. My colleagues and I are working to keep Minnesota moving forward, and to see that our communities and our state emerge stronger from these challenges.