This coming Monday, June 29, is the deadline for all Minnesota businesses to have a COVID-19 Preparedness Plan in place. Governor Tim Walz recently signed Executive Order 20-74, which requires businesses to prepare for the relaxing of restrictions and the reopening of the state's economy.

This coming Monday, June 29, is the deadline for all Minnesota businesses to have a COVID-19 Preparedness Plan in place. Governor Tim Walz recently signed Executive Order 20-74, which requires businesses to prepare for the relaxing of restrictions and the reopening of the state’s economy.

Montevideo City Manager Robert Wolfington said: It is my understanding that the State of Minnesota is requiring that all COVID response plans be put in place by June 29, but they do not need to be submitted to the state or the city of Montevideo for review.”

The order, which was signed and filed on June 5, 2020, details steps to be taken by the public and businesses to move forward as the state gradually begins reopening after nearly four months of quarantine.

Retail businesses must use a formula in order to determine how many customers can be in their business at one time. All spaces in a building must have a plan in place, whether the space is open to the public or only utilized by employees. A COVID-19 Preparedness Plan Template and Instructions has been made available on the State of Minnesota’s Stay Safe MN website.

Locally, the Chamber of Commerce and City of Montevideo have been available to help work with retailers to implement their plans. “We continue to work with our business community and try our best to answer questions or give guidance where we can,” said Wolfington. “I also encourage businesses with questions to reach out to Countryside Public Health or review the guidelines set by the state at <https://mn.gov/covid19/>.”

According to the governor’s Executive Order, all businesses are asked to keep copies of their COVID-19 Response Plan at their places of business. Wolfington said: “Businesses should keep them on hand for employees to review as they get adopted, and they should be available for customers to review upon request. I recommend having them placed in a publicly available location.”

Wolfington explained how the governor’s plan to safely reopen businesses works. “The governor has talked about a four-phase dial as it relates to the State’s response to COVID-19. This dial determines how many people can be at a given business, what businesses can open, as well as other things. Currently, the state has us at Phase III. There is no set date when Phase IV might happen. I’ve also seen things become fluid within each phase, including faith-based gatherings, so it is possible things could change without a move in phases,” he said.

As the COVID-19 situation is in a constant state of change, the length of time these business plans need to be in place is uncertain. Wolfington said: “The duration of the need for these plans is unclear at this time. The governor has continued to extend the peacetime emergency surrounding COVID-19. I would anticipate the plan would be in place until such time when the emergency is declared to be over.”

At this time, it isn’t exactly clear what would happen if a business were to decide to not make a plan, or if they did, not to follow the plan. In Executive Order 20-74, Governor Walz urged “all Minnesotans to voluntarily comply with this Executive Order.”

It is possible that a person who willfully violates the Executive Order could be found guilty of a misdemeanor. If found guilty, an individual could face a fine of up to $1,000 and imprisonment up to 90 days.

That being said, the state may be reticent to infringe on Constitutional rights.

“The state has largely taken an ‘education’ perspective on enforcing its rules, but I have not seen any more detail on what happens if they are not followed,” said Wolfington.

For now, the State of Minnesota continues to look at ways for businesses to reopen while keeping the public at large safe.