It looks like we are taking a big step backwards as several business across the area reinforce their mask mandates once again. This news comes as the Delta variant ramps up around the country.

Back in May, the city of Duluth lifted their mask ordinance. This came in light of vaccines being rolled out nationwide. Businesses in Duluth and surrounding areas also started lifting their mask mandates.

Places like Home Depot and CVS are two examples of businesses that lifted their mask mandates for fully vaccinated customers. At the time, they advised those that weren't vaccinated to wear a mask. Starbucks, Walmart and Sam's Club stores also changed their mask mandates to the very same policy, along with Target.

Caribou Coffee asked that customers still wear masks indoors despite vaccination status. The DTA also continued to require masks for riders despite whether or not they were vaccinated.

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Now, it looks like we are going backwards again with a handful of businesses in the Twin Ports announcing they are going to start reinforcing masks for customers again after a brief time without these requirements.

The first business is the Duluth Whole Foods Co-op, which shared their new mask policies on Facebook Sunday (August 1st). According to their post, all staff, customers and vendors that enter their store must be wearing a mask. They say you must wear a mask inside their store despite vaccination status.

They also thanked everyone for their understanding as they make changes again amid the pandemic.

A few days prior to their announcement, they shared that they would be implementing their mask mandate again if St. Louis County hit a certain point of transmission. Once it hit a "substantial" rate of transmission, as mentioned above, they implemented their mask policy. They did not give an end date to their mask policy.

The Duluth Whole Foods Co-op has two different locations and all of them are in Duluth. There is one location in the Hillside area and another in Denfeld. Now, you will have to mask up in both until further notice, as the mandate is already in effect as of the time of the announcement.

Grand Casino Hinckley and Grand Casino Mille Lacs also echoed similar sentiments over the weekend. They shared that they will begin requiring masks inside once again, effective at midnight on Monday (August 2nd).

This goes for guests of either location and employees. They also cited the increase of Delta variant COVID-19 cases in the state of Minnesota as the reason for reissuing the mask mandate at this time.

It should be noted that this mask mandate is only for indoor areas. It does not include the pool.

It would not be unlikely for other businesses to follow suit in the coming weeks. Recently, Disney announced that you are no longer allowed to go without a mask in certain parts of their parks, regardless of vaccination status.

One change from the pandemic that is certainly going to stick: being closed on the Thanksgiving holiday. Big retailers closed their doors on Thanksgiving day in 2020 to avoid the gathering of large crowds due to COVID-19. Instead, they opted for online sales and a rollout of in-store sales over a long period of time.

Already, several of those same big retailers have announced they are keeping the change this year and not opening on Thanksgiving Day. Several stated they received positive feedback from doing so in 2020 and want to carry it over into 2021. Stores that will be closed on the holiday this year include Kohl's, Best Buy, Walmart, Target and others.

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