ST. PAUL — Gov. Tim Walz on Monday, Nov. 9, announced that he will again extend the state's peacetime emergency to combat the coronavirus as the illness continues to spread and exact its toll on the state.
The Democratic-Farmer-Labor governor said that he planned another 30-extension of the emergency and, along with that, an extension of his emergency powers, to combat COVID-19. Lawmakers are set to return to the Capitol Thursday, Nov. 12, for a special session to consider the extension.
Both chambers of the Legislature would have to approve resolutions blocking the extension to keep it from taking effect. In each of five prior special sessions, the Republican-controlled Senate voted to prevent an extension while Democrats — who control the House of Representatives — kept the resolution from coming up for a vote there.
With the same leadership and members in play, the same outcome is expected later this week. But this time, the state faces ballooning COVID-19 case counts and shrinking hospital capacity. Walz suggested Monday that he would impose additional restrictions on restaurants and bars to curb those increases.
“This is a dangerous phase of this pandemic. We’re in the midst of a surge in case positivity and hospitalizations,” Walz said in a news release. “Extending the Peacetime Emergency will help ensure we have the tools we need to respond quickly to protect Minnesotans’ health and well-being.”
The peacetime emergency has given Walz broad authority to limit capacity in bars, restaurants and other businesses, require face masks in public and to issue a stay-at-home order earlier this year that allowed Minnesotans to leave home only for causes deemed essential. The order also allowed the state to activate the Minnesota National Guard, scale-up testing under partnerships between the state, University of Minnesota and the Mayo Clinic.
If allowed to lapse, existing protections and partnerships issued under the peacetime emergency could lapse. Republican lawmakers have said the governor should let it end so that they can have a more active role in addressing the pandemic while Walz and Democrats have said the order should remain in place to give Walz more flexibility.