Gov. Walz’s April 23 Order: A Small Step Toward Returning to Work

On April 23, 2020, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz signed a new Executive Order aimed at permitting certain businesses deemed nonessential to return to work, provided certain guidelines are followed. On April 24, representatives of various state agencies held a live webinar to explain the executive order and answer questions. A recording of that webinar and other resources are available on https://mn.gov/deed.

No business is required to reopen under this order. For businesses that wish to reopen and bring non-teleworking employees back to work, the requirements are summarized below:

Make a COVID-19 Preparedness Plan

Before reopening, every business that wishes to reopen must establish and implement a written plan called a “COVID-19 Preparedness Plan.” A customizable template, which employers are encouraged but not required to use and tailor to their own businesses, is available at https://www.dli.mn.gov/updates. The plan must, at a minimum, address the following five areas:

1. Clarify that work from home whenever possible is still required.

2. Policies to ensure that sick workers are required to stay home.

3. Social distancing policies and procedures.

4. Hygiene and source control policies for workers.

5. Cleaning and disinfection protocols for the workplace.

The plan must be signed and certified by senior management, and must be distributed to all workers and prominently posted at all worksites. Adequate training regarding the plan must also be provided, easy for workers to understand and available in the appropriate language for all workers, and documentation of this training must be kept. Employers do not need to submit their plan to the state, however, unless specifically requested to do so.

Health-Screening Workers

As a part of item number 2 above, any business that reopens under Executive Order 20-40 will be required to screen each employee, every day, to ensure that employees showing signs of the virus are promptly sent home. The screening must include at least the following questions:

1. Does the employee have a new fever (of at least 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit), or a sense of having a fever?

2. Does the employee have a new cough they can’t attribute to another health condition?

3. Does the employee have a new shortness of breath they can’t attribute to another health condition?

4. Does the employee have a new sore throat they can’t attribute to another health condition?

5. Does the employee have new muscle aches they can’t attribute to another health condition, or to a specific activity such as exercise?

In addition, while it isn’t a required part of the health screen, the state has made clear that employers are permitted to take employees’ temperatures as a part of this process.

Masks and PPE

While it isn’t part of the requirements of Executive Order 20-40, the state strongly encourages all reopening employers to provide their employees with cloth masks and such other protective gear is reasonable and appropriate for their particular business and various groups of employees.

What’s Next?

Currently, Executive Order 20-20, which was Governor Walz’s initial stay-at-home order, is set to expire on May 4, 2020. In theory, this would mean that all businesses of any type can fully open as of that date, but given the pace of the progress that has been made to combat the virus on a national and global level, that is extremely unlikely. Governor Walz is expected to issue additional orders intended to further reopen Minnesota’s businesses in what the state has affirmed will be a very “gradual and methodical process.”

We will be sure to inform you of those new developments as they arise. If you have questions regarding reopening your business or any other employment-related concerns surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, please contact William Parker (952-921-4602 or wparker@prkalaw.com), or any other attorney at Peters, Revnew, Kappenman & Anderson, P.A.

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