Businesses in North Sioux City are ready to reopen, even if it’s following CDC, federal and state guidelines regarding COVID-19. According to North Sioux City Economic Development Executive Director Andrew Nilges he’s heard from many of the businesses in the community wondering when the city was going to lift restrictions on non-essential business closures and let them adhere to CDC guidelines of social distancing and gatherings of no more than 10 people. The North Sioux City City Council discussed their COVID-19 ordinance that expires May 2 at their meeting Monday night, April 20.
The ordinance expires before the next council meeting and council members disagreed on how to move forward with the ordinance. Some council members wanted to extend the ordinance date to follow South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem’s executive order that currently goes through the end of May while others wished to see it expire and give businesses a chance to reopen for limited business.
“The two groups that I’ve been hearing from the most are the ones that were impacted by the ordinance – the gyms, casinos, bars,” Nilges said. “The businesses that had to close down or scale back their services significantly. Obviously, they would like this ordinance to go away as soon as possible. They want to be able to operate in some capacity so they can generate some income. The expectation is that it’s not full-blown open business like it was pre-COVID... but to open up in some fashion.”
Council member Rodd Slater said if the city ordinance expires, the governor’s orders still stays in place.
“Hers is specific,” he said. “There’s no more than 10 and they’re six feet apart. My concern... is that we put in, on an unanimous vote, that everyone should adopt the governor’s guidelines and that didn’t happen. Some did. But not every did. So where’s our teeth if we let this expire and they told you they would abide by it, but you drive by and there’s a full parking lot?”
Bob LaCroix, manager of VIP Gaming Lounge and Casino Monaco, urged the council to open businesses up to limited. He stated that Sioux Falls has successfully abided by the 10 people and social distancing guidelines and hasn’t had to shut down any of their bars or casinos.
“I can tell that other businesses in the area remain open,” LaCroix said. “Convenience stores, fast food restaurants, Royal Canin, Interbake, large groups of people come together in all those locations. All we’re asking for is a small group of people, socially distanced. We can keep them six feet apart. We can shut down every other machine. We can monitor; we can do constant mitigating efforts with cleaning; we require our customers, when they come in, disinfect their hands. If they don’t, they have to leave. These are all things we can put in place to get our businesses reopened, restart the economy and get our employees back to work. That’s what we’re asking to be able to do.”
Mayor Randy Fredericksen said the only difference is that when Iowa shut down, they were getting a lot of traffic from Iowa residents. He stated he doesn’t want to reopen anything until Iowa does.
“Us right here is a lot different than 300 miles up in South Dakota,” Fredericksen said. “You know what I mean? Say we open and Iowa doesn’t? Then we’re back in the same boat that we were in. I think we need to base ours off of Iowa. I know we’re not Iowa, but we’re awful close and that’s where our trouble spots are coming from. I think we need to follow them.”
“I sympathize with the businesses, I really do,” council member Tena Carpenter said. “But do we risk opening too soon and having a huge increase in outbreak in our area because of it? Do we start all over again? Or do we hang on for a couple additional weeks and go from there?”
Fredericksen is going to speak with City Attorney Darrell Jesse and call a special meeting sometime next week to continue discussions.
See full story in this week’s Dakota Dunes / North Sioux City Times.