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100K Minnesotans could return to work next week, here's what to expect

Thursday did bring some good news. Tens of thousands of Minnesotans could be back on the job as soon as Monday.

MINNEAPOLIS — The state of Minnesota is opening the door for many businesses to reopen as soon as Monday, as long as they don't deal directly with customers.

"We've done all that has been asked by our Governor, and now we're extremely excited, almost to tears," said Dan Riegelman, Vice President of Riedell Skates in Redwing. "With the Governor's partnership, we're taking a cautious step forward to reopen our business."

According to the state, those eligible to reopen Monday include non-critical industrial, manufacturing and office-based businesses or non-profits as long as they don't have customer-facing operations.

That's roughly 20,000 more businesses that could soon open, getting anywhere from 80,000-100,000 more Minnesotans back to work.

RELATED: Walz says schools will stay closed, some business can reopen

"This is not an order to go back to work," said Steve Grove, Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development. "It's just allowing businesses to go back to work, providing they meet some certain guidelines."

Those guidelines include:

  • Allowing employees to telework when possible
  • Performing daily health screenings for employees who come into work
  • Creating a COVID-19 Preparedness Plan that follows state, CDC and OSHA guidelines

"Things like wearing masks, scheduling different hours and coming [through] different entrances to the building," said Eric Gibson, CEO of Indigo Signworks Inc.

Gibson says Indigo Signworks got it's 140+ employees back to work this week, in order to help create and install custom signs for critical businesses that couldn't wait any longer. Before reopening, he said the company spent a lot of time creating that state-required COVID-19 plan.

Eric Gibson: "We're going through exactly what every business is going to be going through."

Kent Erdahl: "Are there any roadblocks that you hit that you didn't expect?"

Gibson: "I think just the anxiety of our employees after spending several weeks at home. Even though we had it scheduled so people were staggering their starts; they were six feet apart, they were wearing masks, it just felt odd and I think people had to overcome that initial anxiety of coming back."

Now that they are back, he says everyone is adjusting, and he simply hopes their plan helps keep them there.

"You can have a business but if you don't have anybody to operate in it, it's really not worth having," Gibson said. "We're really making sure that we're protecting all of those employees in the process."

According to the Department of Employment and Economic Development, the state will not be able to review all 20,000 COVID-19 plans that businesses create, but businesses are required to make them available to employees and post them publicly. If employees have concerns about the plans, they are urged to address them with their employers. They can also file complaints with the state's OSHA office.

MORE NEWS: Students, teachers grapple with school closure extension

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The state of Minnesota has set up a hotline for general questions about coronavirus at 651-201-3920 or 1-800-657-3903, available 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

There is also a data portal online at mn.gov/covid19.