Downtown Duluth businesses discuss eventual reopening

Guidelines were given to ensure the safety of customers and employees when businesses are allowed to reopen.

Downtown Duluth as seen from the air in 2016. (News Tribune file)

Several downtown Duluth businesses and leaders discussed how businesses can start preparing for eventual reopening Tuesday.

Held by the Greater Downtown Council, the meeting gave business owners a framework and answered questions regarding the safe return of customers and employees to Duluth businesses.

Bruce Nustad, president of the Minnesota Retailers Association, anticipates Gov. Tim Walz will soon announce a timeline for when business can start reopening. He said during the meeting executive orders could be loosened as early as next week.

"We don't want to see anything done economically that puts a challenge on us from a public health perspective," he said. "We also don't want to see anything, from a public health perspective, that unnecessarily provides economic damage."

When businesses are able to reopen, Nustad said, they will likely be required to have a safety plan, which businesses should start working on right away. This plan should follow best practices and have occupancy adjustments.


For example, businesses should remind employees and customers to stay home when they're sick, limit what employees have to touch and mark appropriate social distances on floors.

"I think blue painter's tape is going to become a retailer's best friend in the short term," Nustad said.

The Minnesota Retailers Association is holding a webinar later this week to give further guidance on reopening plans.

"Our intention is that those best practices be a collection of 'shoulds' and not 'musts,'" he said. "Each environment in retail is different. ... And I think the full expectation should be that you modify those best practices based on your setting."

The city of Duluth also fielded questions about a resolution that passed Monday night that waives fees related to sidewalk special-use permits, aiming to help establishments doing curbside business, said Chris Fleege, director of planning and economic development for the city.

"We know that it doesn't work for all businesses. ... But for those that can leverage it or would like to have something set up, we're more than happy to do that," Fleege said.

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