Detroit Lakes gas station closed after coronavirus scare

This sanitation worker, in full-body protective gear, was seen cleaning the lobby area at the Holiday gas station in Detroit Lakes late Thursday morning, April 2. The store-wide professional cleaning and sanitation was implemented by Holiday's corporate office after a customer at the store was heard stating that she had "tested positive" for something, though she didn't specify whether or not it was for the COVID-19 virus. (Nathan Bowe / Tribune)

DETROIT LAKES, Minn. — The Holiday gas station on Frazee Avenue in Detroit Lakes was closed early Thursday, April 2, for "cleaning and sanitizing" after a health scare.

According to Detroit Lakes Police Chief Steven Todd, a call was placed to the Becker County Sheriff's Office dispatch at 6:57 a.m. Thursday to report that a customer at the store had said she "tested positive" for something.

"She didn’t say what she was positive for, but obviously with the issues ongoing in our country right now the store (employees) assumed she was talking about the coronavirus," Todd said.

The woman did not identify herself, and subsequently left the store, got into a vehicle parked out front and drove away, according to Todd.


The Holiday Gas Station in Detroit Lakes is closed today for “cleaning and sanitizing,” according to an employee greeting customers outside. Trucks from ServiceMaster Clean were spotted outside. (J.J. Perry / Tribune)

Whether the woman was telling the truth or just "looking for a reaction," Todd said, the Holiday employees took it seriously and immediately closed the store to the public before placing the call to the dispatch office, as well as one to Holiday's corporate offices in Bloomington.

"Earlier today, a customer at our Detroit Lakes, Minnesota store #466 appeared to be ill and made claims to have coronavirus to our staff. Even though the customer was only in the store for a short time, we immediately closed the interior of our store for thorough cleaning," Holiday Vice President of Operations Gary Brant said in an emailed statement. "This is being done as a precautionary measure to protect our team members, business partners and the community. Our fuel pumps will remain operational during this time. We expect the store to re-open by 6 p.m. (April 2) with alternate staff."

Todd said extra protective measures were taken by Holiday, and that contrary to rumors, no hazmat crew was dispatched to the site. He added that the two officers in charge of the case handled it over the phone rather than investigating on site, as per the governor's executive order limiting interpersonal contact for Minnesota residents, due to concerns regarding COVID-19 exposure.

At the noontime hour, two ServiceMaster Clean trucks were seen parked outside the store. ServiceMaster employees, wearing full-body protective suits, masks and gloves, proceeded to clean the store top to bottom.

"It appears the store and their corporate headquarters are being very thorough in making sure they provide a clean environment for their customers," Todd said, adding that he felt they "have gone above and beyond what they can be expected to do."


J.J. Perry has been an editor with Forum News Service since 2020. In that role, he works with reporters and editors in Minnesota and the Dakotas, to share news across all of our properties in Forum Communications.
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