Duluth Depot to Remain Closed To Public, Vaccinating Frontline Workers Until April

The vaccines are available to those specific group by appointment only. No walk-ins are allowed. 

DULUTH, Minn.- The St. Louis County Depot has transformed its Great Hall into a small-scale vaccination clinic for front-line healthcare workers – meaning it will remain closed to the general public until April, with no plans for shows or exhibits until then.

“We feel like it’s very important that we really push forward with this vaccination effort,” said Mary Tennis, Director of the Depot.

Gov. Tim Walz allowed indoor entertainment venues to open at 25 percent capacity under his new guidance.

But county officials decided the Depot space is perfect to continue vaccinating healthcare workers and first responders there, by appointment only. No walk-ins are allowed.

According to Tennis, people can enter through the “new building” entrance and make sure they’re registered before heading to the Great Hall to get vaccinated — with enough room to sit for the 15-min observation window.

“The Great Hall, just the shape of the space, the flow of the space, really offers a lot,” Tennis said. “Without having to have tons and tons of public health workers.”

So for the next two months, organizations like the Lake Superior Railroad Museum, Duluth Art Institute, Duluth Playhouse Theater and more continue hosting virtual events or sit unused.

“I think that they really know that it’s important to prioritize the common good right now. Which is to get people vaccinated. And then we can all kinda maybe start to get back to business,” said the Director.

For them, getting back to business will be in the spring.

According to Tennis, Duluth Art Institute is looking at a date for their big members show, trains are expected to start rolling down the North Shore Scenic Railroad in May, and more re-openings are in the pipeline. “So far we’re keeping it real low-key.”

“Because of course we’re kinda trigger shy, we don’t know if we’re gonna have to close back up again,” said Tennis.

Staying closed for more than eight months, Tennis said, has been tough on all the attractions. “It’s a blow. I mean, we don’t have our admissions happening to offset costs so it is a blow. We’re just dependent on donations.”

But until April, she encourages people to check out the virtual classes and events available — and consider making a donation to any of the organizations that call the Depot home.

Still, she said vaccinating essential workers fits right in line with the Depot’s role of service to the community.

“It, maybe on the surface doesn’t seem to fit in with maybe entertainment or education, but in reality spaces like the Depot have been used for the past 150 as resources in times of severe challenge for communities just like Duluth,” Tennis said. “So we thought that it was actually a very, very good fit for us.”

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