City to ask for limitations on certain businesses

March 25, 2020

The city of Sioux Falls will ask the Board of Health and the Sioux Falls City Council on Thursday to limit occupancy in certain businesses, including restaurant dining rooms and bars.

The board and council will be meeting during the afternoon of March 26.

The city’s ordinance would require a  bar, restaurant, brewery, cafe, casino, coffee shop, recreational or athletic facility, health club, or entertainment venue to limit occupancy to fewer than 10 people.

“That is certainly going to clear up a lot of the challenges we’re seeing from some of the businesses who aren’t operating in the fashion we want them to take,” Mayor Paul TenHaken said.

“We are operating as a city to the fullest extent we’re able to under the law.”

The ordinance will be enforceable by law as a Class 2 misdemeanor, which means it is punishable by a maximum of 30 days in jail and $500 in fines. It also could include suspension or revocation of a license, such as a bar’s liquor license, TenHaken said. It will be evaluated in two weeks to determine if it needs to stay in effect.

“We are doing all we can to ensure we don’t collapse the economy in our city, but we’re also doing all we can to ensure public health in our city,” he said. “Public health, as we said all along, is priority No. 1 in this.”

The move comes as Minnehaha County was determined March 25 to have substantial community spread of COVID-19, which means there are five or more cases contracted from community spread. Lincoln County, with one case, is in mild or moderate community spread.

The city’s requirement does not involve places such as salons and massage businesses at this point, he said, while specifically addressing salon owners and employees.

“If you don’t feel like there’s a safe environment for you to perform your craft … you need to make that known to your employer and you need to make a decision that’s best for you,” TenHaken said.

“Most salons … don’t have 10 or more people at a time typically, so this does not apply to salons. That’s a separate category. Those business owners have to continue to operate with the safety of their employees and patrons in mind.”

Some salons have started to close. A Perfect Ten Nail & Beauty Bar plans to close its seven South Dakota locations from March 28 until at least April 8.

TenHaken also addressed the expected federal assistance and said he anticipates it will be helpful for small businesses and families.

He also noted there are available jobs for those who are struggling.

“I’ve never seen Hy-Vee, Walmart running ads on TV saying, ‘We need temporary help right now. We need people.’ There are jobs available. Please look at some of those options.”

The One Sioux Falls fund established last week has raised $1.2 million to help fill in gaps for those struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic. It has taken 1,000 requests and will begin helping 120 families this week.

TenHaken called on those who can give to do so and said that while there has been discussion nationally of the outbreak winding down by Easter on April 12, it’s “very unlikely.”

“You need to listen to some of your state and local leaders on this who are giving probably a more realistic picture of what we’ll be facing in the weeks and months ahead,” he said. “We’re going to need to sustain some support for the next several months for sure.”

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City to ask for limitations on certain businesses

The city of Sioux Falls will asking the board of health and the Sioux Falls City Council on Thursday to limit occupancy in certain businesses, including restaurant dining rooms and bars.

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