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'Plan Accordingly': Minnesotans Told To Expect More Disruptions As Omicron Spreads

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said people could expect to see disruptions in multiple services as the more contagious Omicron variant spreads throughout Minnesota.

"We're talking with employers and businesses to plan accordingly for significant percentages of the workforce to be out at any one time," Malcolm said Friday.

School districts are trying to preserve in-person learning as they experience statewide staffing challenges and students getting sick or being exposed.

"What happens when two-thirds of your class is home sick," Education Minnesota president Denise Specht said. "You can do teaching and learning with the other third that's there, but you've got to catch up everybody that isn't there."

For the restaurant business, the winter months after the holidays are already challenging in Minnesota.

"I think this is the hardest time we've actually faced," Tim Niver, Mucci's Italian and Saint Dinette owner, said.

The acclaimed restauranteur says he could lose a restaurant soon.

"The amount of people out for absences, the winter, the lack of funding the revitalizations funds...those things compound into a difficult scenario," Niver said.

Metro Transit had 10% of its bus and light rail operators out sick Tuesday.

Metro Transit interim chief operating officer Brian Funk said some customers may experience delays or cancellations in some cases.

"The biggest thing for customers is to continue to monitor rider alerts," Funk said. "Information ahead of time to let folks know which trips are not operating so they're able to make other arrangements or on cold days to step back inside if it will be another 10-15 minutes."

Last week Waste Management also announced around 5,000 households would have a delay in trash pickup after a COVID outbreak among its drivers.

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