All five of the county commissioners look forward to the day when small-town businesses and other establishments can reopen in Otter Tail County.

At the same time, safety for employees and customers will be a top priority, in response to COVID-19.

Purchasing of hand sanitizers in small quantities may not be easy. But county government has a way of assisting those small-town businesses.

“We in county government can purchase hand sanitizer and other protective gear in bulk, and in turn provide what’s needed in smaller quantities to the local businesses,” county Deputy Administrator Nick Leonard told county board members Tuesday, May 12.

Under state guidelines, businesses that will reopen in Otter Tail County and elsewhere across the state will need to have plans to enforce social distancing and good hygiene. The goal is to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

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“Hand sanitizers are critical to meeting this goal,” Leonard said. “We as a county can purchase hand sanitizer in bulk, and recoup our costs. We can sell the smaller quantities at prices that will make us break even with this service.”

Area suppliers in west central Minnesota often sell hand sanitizer in 55-gallon drums, much more than what is needed for a small-town business at a given point in time.

“This is a way, through the availability of smaller quantities, for a business to access something needed to fight COVID-19 in an affordable way,” Leonard said.

Concurring with this policy on May 12 was county board Chairman Lee Rogness of Fergus Falls and fellow commissioners Wayne Johnson of Pelican Rapids, Doug Huebsch of Perham, Betty Murphy of Maine Township and John Lindquist of Dalton.

Leonard said that a hospitality establishment, Thumper Pond in Ottertail, is an example of a business in addition to stores on main streets that will welcome a way to obtain hand sanitizer in smaller quantities and at reasonable costs.