Mask enouragement not in conflict with local indoor events, according to Sioux Falls Mayor’s office Original

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken’s message for the public to wear masks and practice more vigilance in response to the coronavirus pandemic this week came as indoor events in city-owned facilities are set for this weekend and in the future.

But indoor events in city-owned facilities are not in conflict with the mayor’s message, said spokesperson BryAnn Becker Knecht of the mayor’s office.

The PREMIER Center and the Washington Pavilion, for example, have used innovative ways to safely host events and be open, Becker Knecht said.

The mayor wants the public to be physically safe during the coronavirus pandemic but there are also other considerations for their overall health, Becker Knecht said.

“Mayor TenHaken has remained diligent as well in his comments to individuals in our region regarding making decisions that are right for their situation, including continuing to identify ways of caring for their physical and mental health, which could include attending an event or function outside of their home,” Becker Knecht said in an email response to KELOLAND News questions. “In addition, as the Mayor stated, he expects all of us to do more by utilizing the mitigation measures available to us, including wearing a mask. ”  

Several examples of public indoor events at city-owned facilities include the Governor’s Sportsmen’s Showcase at the Sioux Falls Convention Center and Arena and concert at the Denny Sanford PREMIER Center this weekend, the Autumn Festival Saturday at the Washington Pavilion and the Rocky Horror Picture Show movie event Oct. 30 and 31 at the Orpheum Theater.

“Our third-party managed facilities have worked diligently to identify ways of remaining operational through the utilization of different mitigation measures,” Becker Knecht said.

A partnership between the City of Sioux Falls and Experience Sioux Falls, along with the Washington Pavilion of Arts and Science and ASM Global, has set a calendar of events from this month to February. The indoor and outdoor events will be safe for residents and visitors to attend, according to the city of Sioux Falls website.

“…we have several different efforts underway to assist in maintaining the physical health, mental health and financial health of our community during this pandemic – all of which are important and include SOAR, SPARK and Sioux Falls Alive,” Becker Knecht said.

The Sioux Falls area had 202 new cases of the coronavirus and 140 people in the hospital on Oct. 19, according to the city of Sioux Falls COVID-19 dashboard. Cases, hospitalizations and deaths have been increasing since at least Sept. 1 but have significantly increased since Oct. 1 when the area had 916 active cases. As of Oct. 23, the Sioux Falls area has 2,829 active cases and there are 139 people hospitalized. The area had 322 new COVID-19 cases on Oct. 23.

The safe handling of events is important because indoor events can contribute to the spread of COVID-19, according to the Centers for Disease Control. CDC guidelines for indoor events include: wear a mask when social distancing is not possible, maintaining six feet of distance between people who are not in your household, washing hands and others.

Denny Sanford PREMIER Center General Manager Mike Krewson said in an Oct. 22 KELOLAND News story by Kelli Volk that protocols such as social distancing and hand sanitizer stations will be in place for the weekend Sportsmen’s Show. The staff will be required to wear face coverings.

Krewson said attendees to events at the PREMIER Center complex will be encouraged to wear masks.

The Washington Pavilion re-opened in phases starting on June 1. As of June 19, the Pavilion was open in phase II and would transition to phase III soon, museum director Jason Folkerts said in a KELOLAND News story by Whitney Fowkes. A task force put guidelines in place such as signs, sanitation stations on each floor, encouraging social distancing and limiting guest numbers, who were the building at the same time. Folkerts said the Pavilion would continue to follow CDC guidelines.

Measures such as occupancy limitations and monitoring are still in place today, according to the Pavilion’s website.

Becker Knecht said events have also been important to the local economy.

“These efforts have been vital to helping businesses, including our third-party managed facilities, identify innovative ways of remaining operational and keeping people employed and housed during this time,” Becker Knecht said.

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