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Cabin Country encourages 'one moose of distance' for visitors

There are mixed messages from officials about heading to cabin country, but legally you may do so.

COOK COUNTY, Minn. — Memorial Day Weekend marks the unofficial start of summer in Minnesota. Usually, those of us here in the metro head to cabin country. One popular area is Cook County.

According to the Minnesota Department of Health, it's one of just four counties without any confirmed COVID-19 cases. Of course, we all want to keep it that way. But does that mean we should not visit?

Minnesota's Stay Safe Plan points us to the DNR website, which reads that "Minnesotans are discouraged from engaging in unnecessary travel." Tuesday, the Cook County board updated its travel advisory, echoing the DNR's message.

But according to Visit Cook County, the visitors bureau for the area, Cook County's economy is at least 85% dependent on the hospitality industry. Executive director Linda Jurek says visitors are welcome.

"I will flip it around to say, you know what? It could be very essential to you to be outdoors and to get away from the metro area so I think it becomes a real personal responsibility for us to act in a very COVID-responsible fashion," Jurek said.

Visit Cook County is trying to get that message across by encouraging people to wear masks and to "keep six feet, or one moose, apart."  And businesses are doing their part by following a guide for best practices and safety measures, Jurek said. For example, one of the larger lodging properties, Cascade Vacation Rentals, is asking visitors to BYOL: Bring Their Own Linens.

Meanwhile, in its updated travel advisory, the Cook County Board says the county has one of the highest populations of older adults in the state. To help protect them, you should go back home immediately if you're sick and keep in mind the county's health care system is limited.

When it comes to campgrounds, right now, the governor's plan says they should be closed except for remote sites but restrictions will loosen once the second phase of reopening the state begins on June 1. That's when more campgrounds will be allowed to "open with guidance."

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