What the Construction Industry Needs to Know About the Executive Order that Goes Into Effect Today

November 20, 2020

As 2020 slowly winds down, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz has ramped up his efforts to thwart the spread of COVID-19. During his announcement on November 18, 2020, Governor Walz emphasized how the Midwest has struggled to slow the spread of the pandemic. Specifically, on November 14, 2020, Governor Walz proclaimed that Minnesota had a record number of 8,689 new confirmed COVID-19 cases. He further announced that Minnesota’s healthcare infrastructure is now in “Code Red” status due to ICU capacity becoming so scarce.

In an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19, Governor Walz issued Executive Order 20-99. This Executive Order goes into effect today, November 20, 2020 at 11:59 pm through Friday, December 18, 2020 at 11:59 pm. This Executive Order puts a four-week pause on Minnesotan businesses and citizens alike. Minnesotans are now prohibited from all social gatherings with persons not part of the same household. Gyms are to close under new COVID-19 restrictions and restaurants/bars are back to take-out and delivery only.

The Executive Order also brings new regulations for the construction industry. COVID-19 Construction under Executive Order 20-99 explains the new requirements as follows:

For the four weeks, the construction sector will operate under the following provisions:

  • Meetings and training sessions shall be held virtually whenever possible.
  • In-person meetings and training sessions shall be limited to workers only, shall involve as few workers as possible, and shall not to exceed ten workers at one time.
  • Workers who can work from home must do so.
  • Sectors commonly available to workers may be paused or limited during the four week time-period, such as restaurants.
  • To the extent activities are not paused by EO 20-99, the provisions in the “Preparedness Plan Requirements Guidelines – Construction” [sic], continue to be applicable to those activities, unless revised by the above provisions, and the construction sector must continue to comply with them.

After laying out the new requirements, the consequences for willful violations of the Executive Order are listed. Below is an excerpt:

10. Enforcement. I urge all Minnesotans to voluntarily comply with this Executive Order. Pursuant to Minnesota Statutes 2020, section 12.45, an individual who willfully violates this Executive Order is guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction must be punished by a fine not to exceed $1,000 or by imprisonment for not more than 90 days. Any business owner, manager, or supervisor who requires or encourages any of their employees, contractors, vendors, volunteers, or interns to violate this Executive Order is guilty of a gross misdemeanor and upon conviction must be punished by a fine not to exceed $3,000 or by imprisonment for not more than a year.

The language found above would indicate that these new regulations are more self enforcement than police enforcement, but regardless, there is a path for the government to punish those who willfully disregard the Executive Order.  

As always, should you have any questions regarding the Executive Order requirements or need assistance in drafting or updating your businesses’ COVID-19 Preparedness Plan, the attorneys at Arthur Chapman Kettering Smetak & Pikala, P.A. are here to help. The firm has assisted numerous businesses and organizations draft Preparedness Plans. Please do not hesitate to reach out to our firm regarding any of your construction law concerns.