Shelter-in-place orders: Looking at other states to see what a MN order might be

Gov. Tim Walz speaks during a news conference about the COVID-19 outbreak.
Gov. Tim Walz speaks during a news conference about the outbreak of the novel coronavirus in St. Paul on March 16.
Glen Stubbe | Star Tribune via AP

Updated March 23, 12:40 p.m.

A shelter-in-place order is among the tools Gov. Tim Walz is considering in the state’s attempt to slow the COVID-19 pandemic.

The governor said Friday he’s not yet ready to issue such an order, but "it is a possibility."

It is unclear exactly what such an order would look like in Minnesota. However, many of the shelter-in-place directives or “stay-at-home” orders share some similarities and may indicate what such an order would mean to Minnesotans.

There were more than a dozen such orders in place across the nation. Most allow for residents to go to grocery stores and pharmacies, take walks and walk pets.

In Ohio, Gov. Mike DeWine is emphasizing his order is essentially what many in that state are doing anyway: staying and working from home. The order takes effect Monday at 11:59 p.m. through April 6. He’s called for all businesses deemed non-essential to close and placed restrictions on day care operations.

Businesses allowed to remain open must also provide separate hours of operation for vulnerable populations. Employers must supply hand sanitizer and sanitizing products for both employees and customers.

In New York, which is becoming this nation’s epicenter of the virus outbreak, Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered all nonessential businesses to close by 8 p.m. Sunday, NPR's Hansi Lo Wang reports. Essential businesses that will remain open include grocery stores, pharmacies and public transit.

In San Francisco, the order requires people to stay at home except to “provide or receive certain essential services or engage in certain essential activities and work for essential business and government services.” All businesses must stop nonessential operations, and all nonessential travel and gatherings must stop. Those experiencing homelessness are exempt, but urged to find shelter from government agencies.

Oak Park, just outside Chicago, is on similar orders. The Chicago Tribune reports: “Oak Park residents can still go to the grocery store, keep their doctor appointments, make pharmacy runs and get some fresh air. They’ll also be able to go to work, especially if they have essential jobs such as health care providers, first responders and sanitation workers.”

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security issued a memorandum on March 19 of businesses considered essential. They include stores, pharmacies, houses of worship, media, gas stations and financial institutions.

The Minnesota Health Department said it didn’t yet have public information on how it would handle sheltering in place, a spokesperson said, but added it wouldn’t be entirely restrictive.

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