Walz’s office announced the decision in a news release, saying that COVID-19, the disease caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, “continues to present an unprecedented and rapidly evolving challenge to our state.”
The COVID-19 peacetime emergency gives the state flexibility in responding to rapidly-evolving issues stemming from the ongoing pandemic, his office said.
“The peacetime emergency has provided us tools to save lives and mitigate the devastating impacts of this pandemic. As cases skyrocket in other states, we can’t let our guard down now,” Walz said in a statement.
The state’s peacetime emergency can be ended earlier if rescinded by the governor. It can also be terminated by a majority vote of both houses of the legislature. It is limited to 30 days under state law, and allows the governor to issue executive orders and regulate businesses during the pandemic.
— Governor Tim Walz (@GovTimWalz) July 7, 2020
Walz first declared a peacetime state of emergency on March 13, as cases of the CCP virus began to spread across the United States. He issued a series of strong recommendations for steps Minnesotans to take to limit the spread of COVID-19, with an emphasis on people keeping their distance from each other.
The key recommendations included canceling or postponing gatherings of 250 people or more, including concerts, conferences, arts performances, and sporting events; ensuring space for social distancing of 6 feet per person at smaller events; and limiting gatherings of people at higher risk to no more than 10 people.
Walz’s office said that since the emergency order was issued, the state had expanded testing, provided economic relief and stability to those impacted by the pandemic, activated the National Guard to assist in relief efforts, and enhanced protections for veterans.
“Our actions have saved lives, but the threat remains, and our work must continue,” the emergency executive order (pdf) reads.
“The emergency is not over,” said Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan in a statement. “Minnesotans are relying on us to respond in real time to a virus that we are still learning more about. We cannot end necessary protections that are saving lives and keeping people safe.”
In April, hundreds of Minnesotans gathered outside the Walz’s St. Paul residence in protest of the state’s lockdown. Some 800 protesters attended the “Liberate Minnesota” rally which was cheered by President Donald Trump and Republican leaders in Minnesota who had grown increasingly critical of record job losses and social anguish fueled by stay-at-home directives and business shutdowns.
Tom Ozimek and The Associated Press contributed to this report.