Governor Tim Walz today signed Executive Order 21-04, extending the peacetime emergency that gives the state flexibility in responding to the pandemic, including safely and effectively distributing the vaccine. Forty-eight other states remain in a state of emergency.

“As of today, Minnesota has administered the vaccine to over 140,000 health care workers and Minnesotans most susceptible to COVID-19.” said Governor Walz. “The sun is rising on the pandemic, but we need to remain vigilant until we put the threat of COVID-19 behind us. The peacetime emergency gives us the tools to keep Minnesotans healthy and deliver the vaccine in a way that is effective, safe, and equitable.”

Minnesota’s peacetime emergency gives the state the tools necessary for the timely acquisition of supplies and technology to support the vaccine effort. It also supports the expansion Minnesota’s testing capacity; protects Minnesotans against evictions and wage garnishment; provides expedited procurement power for personal protective equipment (PPE) and other equipment; allows Minnesota to follow the advice of public health experts in combatting the spread of COVID-19; protects workers from unsafe worker conditions; requires Minnesotans to wear a face covering in certain settings to prevent the spread of COVID-19; and provides economic relief and stability to Minnesotans and small businesses impacted by the pandemic.

“Nearly 5,800 of our neighbors and loved ones have lost their lives to COVID-19 in Minnesota. While the vaccine is on our doorstep, it will take time for everyone to get the opportunity to be vaccinated,” said Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan. “COVID is still a threat, and we must remain cautious. The peacetime emergency is needed more than ever so that we can continue to keep Minnesotans safe and healthy.”

Last week, in a letter to the Minnesota Legislature, Governor Walz recognized a shared interest in finding a pathway to work collaboratively to mitigate the effects of the pandemic and to ensure an orderly end of the peacetime emergency when it is no longer needed. With a light now at the end of the tunnel, Governor Walz encouraged the Legislature to begin the work of enacting into law the core provisions of the emergency response that have been keeping Minnesotans safe. The laws will be needed to facilitate the wind-down of the peacetime emergency and related emergency executive orders at a time when the pandemic presents a less significant and rapidly evolving challenge to Minnesota.

Executive Order 21-04 has been approved by the Executive Council, which is made up of Governor Walz, Lt. Governor Flanagan, Attorney General Ellison, Secretary of State Simon, and State Auditor Blaha.