Target has again postponed employees' return to its downtown Minneapolis headquarters. Instead of June, it will be in the fall.

"Our priority continues to be the safety and well-being of our team," Target said in a statement. "We've safely returned a very small portion of our team whose work is most dependent on our headquarters facilities, and we will evaluate and adjust if needed, continuing to fully cooperate with applicable local regulations."

Target still lists 8,500 employees as based at its headquarters, according to the Minneapolis Downtown Council.

Target also reaffirmed it would change its work model for the long term.

"As we look beyond 2021, our longer-term headquarters environment will include a hybrid model of remote and on-site work to allow for flexibility and collaboration," the company said in the statement.

Other companies and the Minneapolis Downtown Council have tracked Target's decisions as they come up with their own return-to-office plans.

While the first concern is to keep everyone safe, a dearth of customers is hurting other downtown businesses such as restaurants and meeting venues, said Steve Cramer, chief executive of the Downtown Council.

The moves of Target and other large companies largely track what public health advocates say, he said.

"The things that really make downtown a vibrant and inviting place are at a low ebb," Cramer said.

The "reactivation journey" will come as people get the vaccines and start interacting more and going places.

But Cramer said he hopes the state closely tracks the public health factors and allows for reopening as quickly as possible — telling people who can work at home that they no longer must, and opening up venues to more people. The more people who are downtown also means the area will be safer, he said.

"We need all that so we can see that sense of vibrancy," he said.

He then predicts a fairly fast recovery to the downtown economy.

Catherine Roberts • 612-673-4292