Sioux Falls City Council unanimously approves first reading of ordinance lifting COVID-19 business restrictions

Coronavirus

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — A proposed ordinance aimed at reopening many businesses in Sioux Falls closed by COVID-19 passed its first test Friday. The city council unanimously cleared the way for a second reading next week.

Sioux Falls business owners told the City Council they want to reopen as quickly as possible. The also said they appreciate the city looking at relaxing some of the COVID-19 restrictions that are currently in place.

“We’ve stopped the bleeding, I really appreciate it. This is a tough time with this COVID and we all have to kick in, and actually, this is one of my first times out after being self-quarantined for five weeks. Going a little crazy,” Cherry Creek Grill owner Charlie Kneip said.

The ordinance would lift the no-more-than-10 patron cap and allow fitness and entertainment venues to be filled up to 50 percent of their posted capacity. Restaurants and bars, meanwhile, would be required to have a six-foot social distance cushion between customers.

“What the data has told us is that it’s time to allow businesses some more flexibility because that surge is going to be manageable, our health care facilities are going to be able to handle the cases,” Mayor Paul TenHaken said.

But council member Theresa Stehly said she’s hearing from constituents who think the city is moving too quickly in reopening businesses.

“I think we need to keep our finger on the trigger because if they start to take a turn for the worse, then we are going to immediately have to reposition ourselves,” Stehly said.

Supporters of the new ordinance say the city has flattened the curve enough for businesses to safely reopen. But they add that ultimately, it will be up to the customers to make their own, individual risk assessment and choose whether to enter those businesses, or stay home, instead.

If the ordinance passes a second reading next Thursday, businesses could reopen the following day, on Friday.

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