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Chamber board statement on closing down non-essential businesses in Cook County

Mar 21, 2020 01:36PM ● By Editor

From the Cook County Chamber of Commerce - March 21, 2020

The board of directors of the Cook County Chamber strongly applauds actions taken by non-essential businesses, including most Cook County lodging properties, to begin the process of shutting their doors to guests for the duration of the COVID-19 crisis. The board also strongly urges all non-essential businesses that have not yet started winding down to begin that process immediately.

During the board meeting-by-phone Saturday morning, several  members offered the use of the facilities and staff to help manage this crisis, all at no cost to the county. The offers included use of empty lodging for those who require quarantine but not hospitalization, use of kitchen facilities and staff to prepare food for whatever need arises, and use of personnel to backstop county employees who are overwhelmed by work. County Board Chair Myron Bursheim and Interim County Administrator Rena Rogers were on the call and expressed gratitude for the offers. While not needed at the moment, she noted, they very well might be critical as this develops. 

The Chamber board recognized the complicated and painful process shutting down will involve for businesses, including many owners and managers of lodging properties. The board noted it will be especially complicated for housing complexes that are governed by homeowners associations whose members are scattered far and wide. But the board concluded that closing is a critically important step in the battle against COVID-19 and should be taken as soon as possible for the following reasons:

  • Gov. Tim Walz has been edging closer and closer to declaring that all Minnesotans should “shelter in place.” When that declaration is made, guests at lodging establishments as well as guests visiting residents in Cook County should be already home or on their way. The governor is likely to give a day or two before the order takes effect, but unless lodging managers and residents wish to be responsible for their guests for the next several months of increasing isolation and hardship, they need to see those guests on their way now. 
  • The medical staff at Sawtooth Mountain Clinic and North Shore Health has urged this action as a critical step in ensuring the county health care system is not overburdened as they begin to receive and treat patients suffering from COVID-19.

 “With Gov. Tim Walz already urging Minnesotans to stay home, with a shelter-in-place declaration due soon, and with our local medical institutions urging this action, it just makes a great deal of good sense for all non-essential businesses to prepare their properties to close down in an orderly but urgent manner,” said Jim Boyd, executive director for the chamber. “We are gratified that most owners and managers have recognized that reality and taken action to close.

“We all grasp how difficult this action is, for owners and staff. The incomes of many families will be destroyed, and the future of numerous businesses will be endangered. This is an extremely difficult action we request. But it is the right thing to do, for our guests and for the people who call Cook County home. To those who must leave, we say, Godspeed.” 

Jim Boyd
Executive Director
Cook County Chamber of Commerce
P.O. Box 805 15 North Broadway
Grand Marais, MN 55604
218-387-2079 (office)
218-387-2466 (home)
218-370-9665 (cell)

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