Rice County Sheriff Troy Dunn told KDHL AM Minnesota listeners today the Governor's stay at home order which goes into effect tonight at 11:59 is not a lockdown.  Sheriff Dunn said, "This is not a lockdown, this is not Martial law.  This is a stay at home order and we're asking for voluntary compliance from all of our community members and people throughout Rice County and across the state."

The Sheriff added the Governor said in his order that people could still go out and about to purchase groceries, go to medical appointments, emergency dental care.  Go to work if they were in some occupations deemed necessary.

"The thing about this is, it's going to benefit not only each one of us individually but our community if we comply by this and follow the rules.  Limit our exposure and exercise social distancing.  It's going to slow this down."

"A lot of people are going to get this virus.  We just want to limit that amount of people because we don't know how it's going to react to each individual person.  You might have it and just feel cold symptoms and I might have it and have to be on a ventilator."

The Rice County Sheriff added people need to be cautious.  He said if his department receives a complaint about someone not complying with the law deputies will be required to check on it.  Most likely the first call would be a warning but depending on the severity of the infraction.  If a citation is issued violation of the Governor's order would be, "A misdemeanor offense with a fine of $700 or up to 90 days in jail."

"You would have to be a significant public safety threat for us to put people in jail.  That's obviously not what we want.  We're trying to minimize the amount of people in our jails because our jails are similar to our nursing homes.  We have people in close confinement and don't want it (the disease) to get into the jail either."

Dunn did say his deputies would continue to do their job.  He added they have cut back some on their proactive law enforcement, "But at the same time if we said that we were going to do no proactive law enforcement people would be endangered.  If people are not abiding by the laws we still will follow through and arrest people if it's a serious enough offense.  If you are a DWI offender you are still going to be arrested."

We asked the Sheriff if the number of domestic abuse calls for service might go up due to people being forced to stay at home.  He replied his office is concerned about that but has not had an abnormal number of those calls yet.

Dunn did say they've seen, "An increase, especially on our evening shifts with mental health issues.  People wanting to do harm to themselves, feeling depressed or a lot of anxiety."

The Rice County Sheriff was happy to report their calls for service were down but added he received a call from the State Fire Marshal's Office that the number of arson fires is up relating to juveniles.  "Because juveniles are not in school, their saying they have nothing to do, are bored and are out starting fires."

"Parents, grandparents keep an eye on your kids, keep them busy,  Give them constructive things to do so that they don't venture off and try to do some things that might get them in trouble or do damage to property."

Dunn added he received an email from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources announcing the limitation of burning permits starting today.

"Due to the dry foliage on top until things green up.  I know we got a lot of people saying we just recently got some rain but the stuff on top is dry and (Faribault Fire) Chief Dienst asked me to remind everybody if you had burning permits they are currently suspended until the DNR lifts this."

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