Although Minnesota Governor Tim Walz moved the state from a "Stay Home" to a "Stay Safe" order on May 18, the Mille Lacs Band's Stay Home order — Executive Order 2020-5 — remains in place in Reservation communities.

The Stay Home executive order was implemented to keep Band members living on the reservation safe — especially those who are most vulnerable, including our Elders, those living at our ALUs, and those who have underlying health conditions that make them more vulnerable to the virus.

While the Executive Order applies specifically to Band members living on reservation lands, Band leaders recommend that Band members living off reservation do the same if possible — stay home and stay safe.
Governor Walz’s decision to loosen restrictions in Minnesota should not be viewed as a suggestion that we are now safe from the virus. We have not yet hit the peak of this infection, and the toughest days are likely still ahead.

The best way for Band members to protect themselves from this virus is still to stay home when you can, to practice regular, thorough hand-washing, and when you must go out, to practice social distancing and to wear masks.

No matter where you live, doing your part to prevent the spread of this virus is your duty, because when you protect yourself, your Elders, and other relatives, you also protect our culture.

The Chief Executive’s Stay Home order went into effect on March 27, the same day Governor Walz implemented the State’s order.

Because Mille Lacs is a sovereign nation, the Governor’s order does not apply to the reservation and tribal trust land.

As the state was planning for a Stay Home order, Mille Lacs Band leaders were forming the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe’s executive order for the reservation and trust land, which was similar to the Governor’s order.

The Mille Lacs Band order will remain in effect until Band officials determine it is safe to lift it, and even then, the decision to reopen will take into consideration the health and welfare of all employees, associates, patrons, Band members, and the communities in which the Band does business.

The original order for the State was set to expire on April 10; however, the Governor extended that order until May 4 and again until May 18, when the new Stay Safe order took effect.

Like the original Stay Home order, the new order does not apply on the Mille Lacs Reservation, where the Stay Home order is still in effect.

On May 13, Governor Walz issued four new Executive Orders related to the COVID-19 pandemic and the gradual loosening of restrictions:

Emergency Executive Order 20-53: Extending the COVID-19 Peacetime Emergency Declared in Executive Order 20-01. “I have determined that the COVID-19 pandemic, an act of nature, continues to endanger life and property in Minnesota, and local resources are inadequate to address the threat. The COVID-19 Peacetime Emergency must therefore continue,“ the order states. The emergency is extended through June 12, 2020, until the Executive Order is rescinded, or until it is terminated by a majority vote of each house of the Legislature.

Emergency Executive Order 20-54: Protecting Workers from Unsafe Working Conditions and Retaliation During the COVID-19 Peacetime Emergency. This order ensures that employers cannot discriminate or retaliate against workers who raise questions about health and safety procedures at work or who choose to wear personal protective equipment.

Emergency Executive Order 20-55: Protecting the Rights and Health of At-Risk Populations during the COVID-19 Peacetime Emergency. This order strongly encourages those at risk to continue to stay at home and provides guidelines for government and other organizations to adopt procedures that help those at risk to remain in their homes. “At-risk persons“ are defined as those 65 or older, those with underlying medical conditions, and residents of long-term care facilities.

Emergency Executive Order 20-56: Safely Reopening Minnesota’s Economy and Ensuring Safe Non-Work Activities during the COVID-19 Peacetime Emergency. This “Stay Safe“ order rescinds Executive Order 20-48, which extended and modified the Stay Home order that went into effect March 27.

The order started the process of reopening the economy May 18, but bars and restaurants remained closed with a target date of June 1 for reopening under certain conditions.

Among the other key points:

"I strongly encourage all Minnesotans to wear a manufactured or homemade cloth face covering when they leave their homes and travel to any public setting where social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies) and to follow face covering guidelines issued by MDH and the CDC until this Executive Order is rescinded."

All persons currently living within the State of Minnesota who are at risk of severe illness from COVID-19, as defined by Executive Order 20-55, are strongly urged to stay at home or in their place of residence and follow the provisions of Executive Order 20-55.

Consistent with federal guidance and to protect our neighbors, Minnesotans are encouraged to stay close to home and are strongly discouraged from engaging in unnecessary travel.

All gatherings of more than 10 people are prohibited.

Any worker who can work from home must do so.

Like the original Stay Home order, the Stay Safe order does not apply on tribal lands. However, the Mille Lacs Band’s Stay Home order, which is more restrictive than the new state order, remains in place in reservation communities. Tribal members who travel off the reservation and trust lands are subject to the new state order.

Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan said, "As we slowly and cautiously move the dial, we are centering Minnesota workers in our decisions. Minnesotans with underlying conditions can and should continue staying home to protect their health, and those who return to work can and should raise concerns about the health and safety practices of their workplaces without fear of discrimination or retaliation. That's how we stay safe together."