MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Target announced it will not require its downtown Minneapolis headquarters employees to return to the office for the rest of the year due to a surge in COVID-19 cases fueled by the delta variant.
Target has about 8,500 workers at its headquarters offices, making it the largest downtown employer. In an email sent to employees Friday, Target said it is still planning a gradual transition back to the office starting Sept. 20, but only common areas such as cafeterias or conference rooms will initially be open.
Plans to reopen other floors and personal workspaces in September have been put on hold.
Other companies, such as U.S. Bancorp and Wells Fargo, said earlier this week that they would delay their September returns to the office by at least a month.
Meanwhile, a growing number of professors and staff at the University of Minnesota are calling on the school to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations this fall. The Star Tribune reported that the university is among a handful of colleges in the Big Ten that are not requiring COVID-19 vaccinations. Minnesota State Colleges and Universities is also not requiring the vaccine at its schools. Vaccines are being required at nearly a dozen private colleges in the state.
The university implemented a mask mandate at its five campuses this week, but it doesn’t plan to enforce social distancing or require regular COVID-19 testing for students.
University leaders have said a vaccination mandate would be difficult to enforce because Minnesota’s immunization law has an exemption for people who hold beliefs against it. Administrators have also said a mandate could be “legally problematic” since the vaccines were authorized for emergency use but do not yet have full Food and Drug Administration approval.
On Friday, Minnesota health officials reported six new deaths from COVID-19 and 1,012 new cases. Data from Johns Hopkins University shows the rolling average number of daily new cases in Minnesota has increased by 435 over the last two weeks — that’s an increase of 175.2%.
Overall, Minnesota. has had 617,788 cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began and 7,694 people have died from the virus.