North Dakota Small Businesses Face New Restrictions, More Relief Money

Date: November 16, 2020

Governor Burgum issues executive order which includes state wide mask mandate, aid for small businesses

Gov. Doug Burgum announced several mitigation measures aimed at slowing the accelerating spread of COVID-19 in North Dakota in order to protect the vulnerable, ensure hospital capacity and keep schools and the economy open.  

The measures include a State Health Officer order requiring face coverings to be worn in indoor businesses and indoor public settings as well as outdoor public settings where physical distancing isn’t possible. The order, signed by interim State Health Officer Dirk Wilke, is effective from Nov. 14 through Dec. 13. It includes exceptions for children under age 5, individuals with a medical or mental health condition or disability that makes it unreasonable to wear a mask, and religious services.

Burgum signed an executive order to implement the other mitigation measures, which take effect Monday, Nov. 16, and are as follows: 

  • All bars, restaurants and food service establishments are limited to 50 percent of their licensed seated capacity, not to exceed 150 patrons, and are closed to in-person service between the hours of 10 p.m. and 4 a.m. Take-out, curbside and delivery will still be allowed during those hours, and Burgum encouraged North Dakotans to take advantage and support local businesses. 

For those that were already following the ND Smart Restart recommendations of 25 percent capacity in high-risk counties, the change will allow them to safely welcome more customers into their establishments with masking and distancing requirements. 

The state will soon make $54 million available through a hospitality grant program to help these businesses navigate this challenging time, and has made $70 million available through the Bank of North Dakota to buy down interest on eligible existing debt for any business whose revenue was impacted negatively by COVID-19. 

  • All banquet, ballroom and event venues are limited to 25 percent of their maximum occupancy, not to exceed new capacity limits that have been established with input from venues and local public health officials based on the size of the venue. Physical distancing and masks will be required for the safety of all venue personnel and patrons. 
  • Playoff championship contests and performance events sponsored by the North Dakota High School Activities Association during the month of November may continue under NDHSAA requirements. All high school winter sports and other extracurricular K-12 school activities are suspended until Dec. 14. This also applies to all association, community and club sports for youth and adults.  

College and intercollegiate activities must follow guidance from the North Dakota University System and their respective national organizations.

Burgum said the four-week pause in activities will help keep schools open to in-person instruction – the optimal learning environment for most students – and ensure that students continue to follow the mitigation strategies of wearing a mask and physical distancing.

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