Minnesota residents and business owners who violate emergency stay-at-home orders may face citations that include steep fines and jail time. State law enforcement agencies are authorized to issue citations to offenders.
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Minnesota Stay-At-Home Orders
Minnesota’s governor, Tim Walz, has issued emergency stay-at-home orders to prevent the spread of COVID-19 throughout the state. Original orders were set to expire on May 4, but have recently been extended. Stay-at-home orders address safety regulations for both Minnesota residents and businesses.
Stay-at-home orders are voluntary, rather than mandatory, but all Minnesotans are urged to voluntarily comply with emergency orders and follow the rules to avoid potential penalties. Governor Walz is working with state law enforcement agencies who are instructed to issue official citations to people who do not comply with stay-at-home orders. Violations are considered a misdemeanor offense that carries a punishment of up to $1,000 in fines or 90 days in jail.
To promote public safety and prevent the spread of COVID-19 illnesses and deaths, Minnesotans are permitted to leave their homes to pick up essential items such as food or groceries, prescription medications, medical supplies, and gas. Everyone is expected to follow social distancing practices by maintaining six feet of distance from other people in public places. Masks are not mandatory while walking or exercising outdoors, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are strongly urging the use of masks or facial coverings for protection when leaving home.
While emergency stay-at-home orders are in place, non-essential businesses are directed to close and workers are directed to work from home whenever possible. Workers who provide critical or essential services are exempt from stay-at-home orders. Exempt businesses and workers include:
- Healthcare professionals
- Law enforcement officers and first responders
- Child care workers
- Public transportation drivers
- Emergency and homeless shelters
- Sanitation and public workers services
Under the latest stay-at-home orders, businesses may face stronger penalties. Business owners, managers, and supervisors who require or encourage employees to violate stay-at-home orders or safety precautions, face gross misdemeanor charges that carry a maximum penalty of $3,000 or one year in prison.
These orders allow the State Attorney General, as well as city and county attorneys, to take civil actions against businesses who violate this order. Businesses that fail to comply with the order may face civil actions and penalties up to $25,000. If gross misdemeanor charges are filed in Minnesota, a criminal defense attorney Minneapolis may be necessary to reduce charges and penalties.