Severity: Critical Alert

Transportation: Officials in Minnesota, US, to ease coronavirus disease-related restrictions on gatherings, additional businesses, starting June 1.

The locations affected by this alert are:

  • Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota
  • Rochester, Minnesota
  • St. Cloud, Minnesota
  • Duluth, Minnesota
  • Thief River Falls, Minnesota
  • Hibbing, Minnesota
  • Redwood Falls, Minnesota
  • Marshall, Minnesota
  • Mankato, Minnesota
  • Park Rapids, Minnesota

This alert began 28 May 2020 19:47 GMT and is scheduled to expire 08 Jun 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: COVID-19 Restrictions
  • Location(s): Minnesota (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Significant transport and business disruptions

Summary
Minnesota Governor Timothy Walz has issued orders to ease restrictions on gatherings and additional businesses starting June 1 as part of the state's coronavirus disease (COVID-19) recovery plan. The orders stipulate that most gatherings of more than 10 people will remain banned. However, weddings, funerals, and religious services held outdoors may host up to 250 people; gatherings for such functions held indoors may not exceed 25 percent of the venue's capacity or 250 persons, whichever is less. Attendants must maintain at least 1.8 meters (six feet) of distance from each other.

The new directive also enables the following businesses to reopen and activities to resume:

  • Outdoor dining at restaurants and bars (by reservation only; capacity restrictions apply)
  • Personal care businesses, such as barbershops, hair salons, and tattoo parlors (by appointment only; capacity restrictions apply)
  • Campgrounds and charter boats
  • Organized youth sports (for practice sessions only)
  • Youth summer programs


Retail stores and malls can continue operating; office-based businesses may also remain open, but authorities strongly encourage telecommuting. Drive-in entertainment venues, outdoor recreational facilities, parks, ski areas, and childcare centers are also open. All businesses allowed to operate must comply with certain mandates aimed at preventing increases in COVID-19 transmission, such as adhering to social distancing guidelines, enhancing sanitation procedures, requiring the use of face masks, and ensuring sick employees remain home, among other requirements. Essential businesses such as grocery stores, pharmacies, banks, and shelters, as well as media, energy, transport, security, and critical manufacturing companies, have not been subject to mandatory closures.

Gyms, fitness centers, indoor entertainment venues, pools, and large public gatherings remain banned. Officials had also canceled in-person school lessons for the remainder of the academic year.

Business disruptions remain likely. Authorities will likely keep additional security personnel deployed to assist in enforcing the measures. Officials could amend the orders at short notice, depending on disease activity in the coming weeks.

Background and Analysis
The relaxation of some measures will likely accelerate in the coming weeks; however, officials may reimpose or extend restrictions should the number of COVID-19 cases increase. COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.

Advice
Strictly heed the instructions of authorities. Avoid all nonessential operations in the areas impacted by the measures. Confirm appointments. Remain courteous and cooperative if approached and questioned by law enforcement officers.

Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.


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