Updates on Bearskin Lodge Covid-19 plans

 

Poster available from https://www.mcbrunopress.com/

 

First of all, we hope you are all safe, healthy, and doing the right things to help us all get through these unprecedented times.  We are all so weary of it, but the more we do the right things, the sooner we will get back to normal.

Cook County still has the lowest Covid case total in Minnesota, and one of the lowest in the US — but our case count did go up.  Our low numbers are not because we’re isolated, as we get thousands of tourists through the area. It’s because our county is very careful. Cook County still expects social distancing and masks as much as possible. Our tiny Cook County Hospital has very limited facilities and our nearest major hospital is 2.5 hours away in Duluth. We live and work on a small enough scale up here that everyone understands that we rise and fall together.  Read a great article here about how Cook County managed to keep our Covid statistics so low over the past year.

Bearskin had some very strict Covid precautions last summer, and we continued to stay strict all winter. Will the Covid protocols at Bearskin loosen up this summer? Yes!  We  plan to move back to more normal operations, but with a few carry-overs from 2020. It turned out that our staff and family had significant exposures to guests with Covid in 2020 but fortunately, we didn’t get sick and we stayed open — probably because of our very careful protocols. We will continue to take extra precautions for our staff and guests.

Will the Main Lodge and gift shop be open this year? Yes, you can enter the lodge with a mask and appropriate social distancing. Minnesota recently discontinued the mask mandate, but like most other businesses in our local area Bearskin Lodge will still expect Lodge visitors to wear masks inside our Main Lodge building. If you choose not to wear a mask, just don’t use the Main Lodge. Easily resolved.

Will there be Monday night picnics in 2021? No, not this summer. Large outdoor gatherings are probably safe, but the picnic frequently has to move indoors. We aren’t able to host large groups for in-lodge picnics and still be safely distanced. Let’s plan on fabulous picnics in 2022!

What about classes and group activities? Activities and classes are back on the schedule for 2021. We are choosing activities that can be done outdoors, or on the airy screen porch with distancing and group size limits. Bonfire night should be possible again as long as everyone keeps some space between groups — but by now, we are all good at that.

Should we wear masks when we are outside at the resort, and should we still maintain social distance?  You do not need to wear a mask at your cabin or on the resort grounds.  Not everyone is in the same place right now with proximity, so when you are outside and meeting other guests try to be polite and keep your distance until you know what their comfort level is. Not everyone is ready to have close encounters with strangers yet. We’re Minnesotans, so 6 feet of space has always been our thing anyway. Remember, also, that Bearskin hosts a huge number of children every summer and mostly they are still not vaccinated.

Should we wear masks when we interact with Bearskin staff outside of the lodge?  You will still see our staff members ususally wearing masks, even though we’ve all been vaccinated. We come in contact with dozens of people per day, in varying states of health, and we all intend to stay extra cautious. If you will need help from staff members inside your cabin or need some close one-on-one assistance, we’d appreciate it if you slipped your mask on.

Will the sauna and community hot tub reopen?  Sort of. All regulations governing these are made by the Minnesota Health Department, not us.  The sauna (not a high use item in summer) can reopen normally as of June 1. The hot tub suffered major damage while the health department required hot tubs to be closed for Covid.  It will re-open after a repair crew comes up, but unfortunately this is not looking like it will be a fast thing. We are designing a sign-up schedule for both the hot tub and the sauna that allows the air to clear out a little between uses, so there will be fewer appointments available for each day. Neither the hot tub nor the sauna are places anyone would call “well-ventilated.”  Use your good judgement.

Are the air-purifiers still in the cabins?  Yes! The medical quality air purifiers will be turned on when you arrive, to clear out the air from the previous guests. We ask that you turn them off on arrival and then, when you are ready to check-out, open your cabin windows and turn on your air purifiers. Air filters will not protect you from each other, so there is no point in running them while you are in the cabin; they will help protect you from the particles left behind by the last cabin guests.

Will guests have to bag up their bedding this year? Not quite like last year. Staff is asking for a partial procedure of packing up some of your towels and bedding. We will provide you with directions if you need to do this. It kept them safe last summer and they want to continue a few of the procedures for the time being.

What is the current internet situation? We will keep the new in-cabin internet that we installed this October through the coming summer and fall, 2021. We have been adding upgrades to make it function better as True North gets this giant Northwoods experiment figured out. We do know that many of you hate internet at your cabin, and we kind of do too. It’s not our usual wilderness vibe. But beaming the internet through the trees and down the trails to your cabin does help our guests keep separated from other people.

How about visiting Grand Marais? There are still a few store precautions in place for many stores — wear a mask, sanitize when you enter, enter and exit through designated doors, don’t bring large groups into the store. Each store has rules clearly posted. Many Grand Marais businesses dealt with shockingly rude behavior last summer in response to their requests for masks and sanitizing. Please help them out and be kind. They are all just trying to keep their families and employees healthy.

What about the USFS Campground for summer 2021?

The forest service is operating the campground on a normal schedule this summer. We will ask for social distancing, but that’s about it for 2021 campground changes. Do what you would do anywhere when you are staying in an outdoor environment surrounded with strangers.

 

We will all have a story to tell after this era. Your Bearskin memories will be different from past years, but we hope you can make unique memories this year that will be a pleasant part of your own narrative of the Covid times.

Stay well,

The McCloughan Family/Bearskin Lodge