Gov. Doug Burgum today signed an amended executive order paving the way for restaurants and bars to resume normal hours of operation as active cases and hospitalizations due to COVID-19 have decreased in North Dakota.
Bars, restaurants and other food service establishments have been closed to in-person service between the hours of 10 p.m. and 4 a.m. since Nov. 16, one of several mitigation measures announced Nov. 13 to slow the spread of COVID-19 as active cases and hospitalizations were peaking. Take-out, curbside and delivery services were allowed to continue during those hours.
Under today’s amended executive order, bars, restaurants and other food service may resume normal operating hours at 8 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 22, consistent with local and state requirements. These establishments remain limited to 50 percent of their licensed seated capacity, not to exceed 150 patrons, until 8 a.m. Jan. 8 to limit opportunities for virus transmission. Seating arrangements and tables must allow for at least 6 feet of physical distance between individual parties; dance areas must be closed; service must be provided to seated patrons only; and masks must be worn by owners, managers and employees at all times, and by patrons except when eating or drinking.
“These businesses are an important part of our economy, and we’re deeply grateful for their efforts and sacrifices to help slow the spread of COVID-19 and reduce actives cases and hospitalizations,” Burgum said. “With the great efforts and personal responsibility of North Dakotans, the combination of the other mitigation measures we still have in place, and the promise and expanding deployment of vaccines, rapid tests and therapeutics, we can allow restaurants and bars to resume normal operating hours and still continue to protect the vulnerable, preserve hospital capacity and keep students in the classroom.”
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, remains in effect until 12:01 a.m. Jan. 18. Banquet, ballroom and event venues also remain limited to 25 percent of their maximum occupancy, not to exceed the ND Smart Restart capacity limits, until 8 a.m. Jan. 8.
Hospitalizations due to COVID-19 in North Dakota have decreased to 158 from a peak of 341 on Nov. 11, while active cases have decreased to 2,655 since peaking at 10,293 on Nov. 13, according to the Department of Health. The state’s 14-day rolling average positivity rate also has decreased from 15.7 percent to 6.2 percent since Nov. 17.
While hospitalizations due to COVID-19 have decreased by more than half from their peak, some hospitals continue to report increased usage of intensive care unit (ICU) beds due to higher non-COVID cases. To avoid another surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, the governor urges residents to physically distance, wear masks, wash hands, limit holiday gatherings and take advantage of testing opportunities. Visit www.health.nd.gov/testnd for more information on testing times and locations.
“The next 10 days over the holidays are a period of high risk for transmission, and it’s up to all North Dakotans to ensure we continue trending in the right direction,” Burgum said.