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Executive Order 20-99 Guidance


The content of this page is not current with the guidelines provided in the latest Emergency Executive Order signed by Governor Tim Walz. Please refer to Executive Order 21‐01 Guidance for the most recent update.


Effective November 20, at 11:59 p.m., Executive Order 20‐99 (EO) will be in effect during four weeks until Friday, Dec. 18, 2020, at 11:59 p.m. The EO dials back safety measures on social activities, in‐person dining, sports, and fitness establishments. The safety measures are restricted to:

  • Social gatherings prohibited. This includes planned and spontaneous gatherings, as well as public and private gatherings Social gatherings are groups of individuals, who are not members of the same household, congregated together for a common or coordinated social, community, or leisure purpose‐even if social distancing can be maintained. Most commercial activities are not considered social gatherings, so this change will not impact most industries, but will impact some in different ways.
  • Masks and face coverings required. Executive Order 20‐81, requiring face coverings in certain settings, remains in full force and effect.
  • At‐risk persons. 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.
  • Work from home. All persons who can work from home must continue to do so.

How EO 20‐99 restrictions apply to higher education institutions and students

Higher education institutions may continue to offer in‐person classes or activities consistent with Executive Order 20‐85 and the updated MDH Guidance for Mitigating COVID‐19 at Higher Education Institutions.

However, according to the EO 20‐99, higher education institutions must adhere to the following guidance, including the Scenario 4 mitigation efforts listed in Recommendations for Different Levels of COVID‐19 Transmission among Higher Education Institutions:

  • Social gatherings are prohibited if they are not associated with a class or structured event, meeting, or organized activity. Individuals studying together should maintain social distancing (be at least 6 feet apart) at all times and should limit to two people as much as possible.
  • Households: Students returning home for a visit are not considered a separate household, but they should be following recommendations for when or if they travel home during break. See Institutes of Higher Education (IHE) COVID‐19.
  • For the purpose of residential campuses, household‐like pods should be considered as those students living in the same smaller section of housing, such as a floor of a dorm or floor of a residence hall.

Requirements for higher education institutions

  • Develop a COVID‐19 Preparedness Plan following guidance found at Stay Safe Guidance for All Businesses.
  • As appropriate, follow other COVID‐19 industry guidance and requirements. See Stay Safe Guidance.
  • Create policies that adhere to the Governor's Executive Order 20‐81, which states that people in Minnesota will be required to wear a face covering in all public indoor spaces and businesses.
  • Classroom occupancy should be limited to no more than 50 students whenever possible. Classes can exceed 50 students only if following requirements are followed. No class can exceed 250 people:
  • For classes that have fewer than 50 students:
    • The institution should require that social distancing (meaning six feet of physical distance apart) be maintained by students and workers as much as possible.
    • Allowances for shorter distances can be made, such as in classrooms that have fixed seats/tables, or in settings where there needs to be closer collaboration like in labs, and where six‐foot social distancing cannot be maintained.
    • In these settings, use assigned seating/seating charts or assigned partners or groups in order to minimize potential exposure and to expedite follow‐up should an exposure occur.
    • Remember: If an individual is diagnosed with COVID‐19, all persons who were within 6 feet from the positive case for greater than 15 minutes while the person was infectious, would be considered exposed and would likely be advised to quarantine.
  • For classes that have greater than 50 students:
    • In class sizes of 51‐100 students, all students and workers must maintain social distancing (meaning, six feet of physical distance apart), without exception. Additional monitoring (beyond the instructor) is encouraged to ensure that students follow social distancing measures.
    • If a class must be larger than 100 students, students and workers must maintain social distancing, without exception. Additional monitoring (beyond the instructor) is required to ensure that students follow social distancing requirements. No in‐person class may exceed 250 students.
    • Additional monitoring means that the institution must designate students or additional staff or instructors to monitor adherence to social distancing requirements. Initially, these student and staff monitors must be present at the start of every class. As the term progress, institutions may gradually lessen the frequency of monitoring to occasional “spot checks”, assuming students and staff have adhered to social distancing expectations throughout the term.
  • Develop plans that address returning to campus, cleaning and disinfection protocols, testing needs, contact tracing, isolation, and quarantine as appropriate.
  • Provide accommodations for “high risk” and vulnerable populations. See People Who Are at Increased Risk for Severe Illness.
  • Certify and sign. Institutional leadership responsible for implementing the plan must sign and certify it, affirming their commitment to implement it.
  • Make the plan available to the public. Higher education institutions must make their plans available according to applicable guidance.
  • Train staff and instructors. Higher education institutions must ensure that staff and instructors are trained on the contents their plans according to applicable guidance.

Visit Minnesota COVID‐19 Response for the latest information and resources available and the COVID‐19 webpage for Institutes of Higher Education to learn about the latest recommendations and guidance from the Minnesota Department of Health.