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Businesses that get people outdoors open in time for Summer adventures

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ELY, MN. -- A big sigh of relief Monday, from northern Minnesota business owners, who make most of their money during the summer tourism season.

The lifting of the 'Stay at Home' order means they can finally open, but challenges remain.

It's their 102 year of being open, but Rainy Lake Houseboats rental business near International Falls hasn't had a year quite like this.

"We have never had a closed day, so it's been very emotional there's not question about that," said Bill Dougherty, co-owner of Rainy Lake Houseboats.

But now, following Governor Walz's new 'Stay Safe Minnesota' order, the houseboat vacation rental has been allowed to open.

"It caused grief I will say that, but things seem to be a lot better now. A lot of people are making reservations and really getting on with their summer vacations," added Dougherty.

Doughtery said they had two groups go out Monday morning, and business will soon pick up even more. He said it's a perfect vacation because guests are instantly away from other people.

"You don't interact with other people, and it's a safe vacation and what we have done here is to try and make it as least impactful on our guests and employees", said Dougherty.

Now that overnight campers can go to the BWCA, businesses like Voyageur North are hopeful that business will soon pick up again.

"A lot of hope actually, it would've been really depressing if I was going to be closed this week. It would've been real life-threatening", said John O'Kane, owner of Voyaguer North Outfitters.

O'Kane said they have implemented new safety measures when customers return from their trips.

"I use bleach water for the invasive speieces on the bottom of my canoes, so now I just flip it over on the top and put the paddles and dump them in the bleach water and away we go," added O'Kane.

O'Kane says 90% of their business comes from those using the Boundary Waters, so the 'Stay Safe Minnesota' order came just in time.

"We are taking a big hit, so I'm hoping for a good rest of the year," said O'Kane.

Both of those businesses said that they've had a lot of people cancel early season trips, but they're working with most of them to reschedule.

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Ryan Compeau

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