City continues to plan for safely opening facilities as Stay Home MN ends

The City of Winona continues to plan for safely opening city facilities, while providing guidance to businesses starting to reopen, in response to the end of Minnesota’s StayHomeMN order.

Facilities that are widely open to the public, including but not limited to the Winona Public Library, East End Rec, and Lake Lodge, remain closed as the city develops phased plans for each to begin providing services while staying focused on employee and resident safety.

The Parks and Recreation department and library anticipate offering some services soon. Those announcements will be made as guidelines from the state continue to develop. Parks and Recreation and the library continue to offer virtual services, as they have throughout the order. Visit their websites and Facebook pages for more details.

“We continue to support the governor’s plan and look forward to having a new set of our businesses start to open in a responsible manner,” said Winona Mayor Mark Peterson. “This new order doesn’t yet allow the city to safely welcome the public back into our facilities, and we continue to actively plan for when that day arrives.” 

Most city departments have been functioning normally throughout the pandemic. All essential services — police, fire, water, wastewater and others — have been operating as usual, and all city departments have been conducting regular business remotely. City hall and emergency services departments will remain closed to the general public in order to protect emergency responder and employee safety. 

Because Minnesota’s new order continues to prohibit gatherings of more than 10 people and requires strict physical distancing, the Park and Recreation Department will not yet be taking reservations for indoor and outdoor facilities. The department is still awaiting state and federal guidance on summer public programming and use of seasonal facilities, like the Bob Welch Aquatic Center. Those decisions will be announced soon. Parks, outdoor spaces and trails have remained open to the public throughout the pandemic.

Business owners are required to create a plan before reopening that strictly follows the state’s order and guidelines. Restaurants, bars, salons and gyms are still ordered to stay closed under the new order. Business owners are first urged to visit the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED)’s Safely Returning to Work website, mn.gov/deed/newscenter/covid/safework, for a collection of resources.

The Winona Fire Department and the Winona Area Chamber of Commerce have been taking questions and providing site visits for businesses; the fire department can be reached at 507-457-8266. The fire department is happy to provide guidance but is not an expert; consulting the department will not provide protection to business owners who don’t correctly follow the order. 

It’s critical that residents continue to strongly consider wearing masks or face coverings in indoor public spaces, practice physical distancing, wash their hands regularly, disinfect and sanitize home surfaces, and practice other behaviors to limit COVID-19’s spread.

Each and every resident’s individual choices and behaviors will be the most important way to continue to progress, and not regress, as we fight this pandemic,” Peterson said.