The Minnesota Senate passed legislation earlier this week that would allow many small businesses to safely resume operations.

    The bill, Senate File 4511, provides a framework for businesses to return to the workplace and safely resume operations if they follow the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) guidelines.

    The legislation would take effect the day following enactment and passed in the chamber with a bipartisan vote of 39-28.

    "In conversations that I've had with hospitals, mayors, and businesses across northwestern Minnesota what I've consistently heard is that our communities are ready to open," said District 1 State Senator Mark Johnson (R-East Grand Forks). "Our region has the proper procedures, equipment, and common-sense policies in play to take on the challenge of protecting our health and rebooting our economy, yet we're still told to shelter. As our neighbors to the east and west reopen and our big-box chains continue to operate, many of Minnesota's small businesses have been shuttered. We need to end this strategy immediately, and move to alternative rules that safely and quickly getting our economy running again."

    The legislation would allow businesses that are "closed to ingress, egress, use, and occupancy by members of the public" due to recent executive orders to resume operations if the business abides by workplace safety recommendations and guidance from the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

    The legislation awaits a hearing in the Minnesota House of Representatives.

    This week, the Senate also voted to approve extending the state's COVID fund, which was set to expire on May 11. The Senate bill allows money in the COVID fund to be used until December 31, 2020. The fund's current balance is $36.9 million as of Monday, May 11.