Crookston Chamber signs letter to Gov. Walz urging him to ramp up business' reopening

Meanwhile, positive COVID-19 cases in and around Crookston and in Polk County are surging. Coalition says businesses can continue to reopen while also keeping the public/customers safe.

Times Report

For the second time since the COVID-19 pandemic hit and resulted in Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz issuing an emergency executive order, the Crookston Chamber of Commerce, along with around 70 other Chambers and other pro-business agencies across the state, has sent a letter to the governor asking him to accelerate the process of allowing Minnesota businesses to reopen, or return to a bit more normal operations.

Here's the context of the letter, sent to Walz from the coalition known as "Minnesota Ready," which in its letterhead says "Businesses are ready to restart our economy, keep us safe":

"Dear Governor Walz,

"On behalf of hundreds of thousands of businesses and more than 70 local chambers of commerce and trade associations across Minnesota, we urge you to “turn the dial forward” to open all consumer-facing businesses to a greater capacity and return workers to their offices with limitations.

"Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the business community has shared the responsibility of balancing the need for public health protections and economic impacts. Businesses which have remained open throughout this crisis have taken necessary steps to protect employee and customer health. Without decisive action to increase capacity prior to the cold weather setting in, many will be lost. This is not simply a personal loss for business owners. This is a loss of commercial and economic activity to the thousands of workers, their communities, local governments and the state.

"We ask you to take the next steps in helping a wide range of businesses remain viable which include:

"Update the Executive Order from “must” work from home to “should” work from home and allow office work to resume at a limited occupancy based on building occupancy fire codes recognizing certain office functions are best performed in person to ensure productivity;

"Increase customer-facing retail capacity under current safeguards;

"Increase restaurant capacity, with consideration for social distancing or the use of barriers (plexiglass, curtains, etc.) to mitigate risk;

"Increase capacity for personal services (salons, barbershops, and tattoo parlors) under current safeguards;

"Increase capacity for gyms, personal fitness and yoga studios, and martial arts under current safeguards; and

"Expand event capacity for indoor and outdoor events and entertainment (similar to religious gatherings).

"As business organizations, we stand ready to help ensure our members are prepared to open more fully – that they have instituted health and safety protocols for their workers and customers and have a preparedness plan in place. We are confident in their ability to do the right thing and are working with them, each and every day to understand state guidelines and employ best practices.

"Minnesota businesses are ready and have designed plans to safely return workers and protect their customers at greater capacity. They have been making incremental progress by being open at a small percentage of their total capacity, but it does not sustain any long-term viability or success.

"It’s time to get Minnesota moving again, in the safest way possible for employees and customers, while protecting businesses of all sizes.

"Minnesota’s long-term economic future is counting on it."