SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken says it’s up to businesses and you to continue to slow the spread of COVID-19 as the city starts to re-open. On Thursday, TenHaken announced new guidelines for businesses and parks to get “back to normal”. He says the city has been working with Sanford and Avera to form a plan based on current case projections.
“Today marks 50 days since the first positive case of COVID-19 in Sioux Falls,” Mayor Paul TenHaken said.
Since then, TenHaken says we’ve seen substantial spread here and projections show we’ll peak in mid to late May.
“It’s certainly not time to declare victory over COVID,” TenHaken said.
However, businesses and taxpayers have some clarity over what the future will look like. Sioux Falls is beginning to re-open parks, playgrounds, dog parks, and skate parks. Pending city council approval, bars and restaurants could have either 10 customers or their regular occupancy, whichever is greater. However, tables must be spread out and all parties must stay six feet away from each other.
“We’re not going to be looking at the occupancy of restaurants and bars. We’re going to be looking at their seating setups,” TenHaken said.
The new plan would allow theaters, fitness centers and other entertainment venues to allow up to 50% of their posted occupancy. TenHaken said easing restrictions comes from COVID-19 surge projections from Sanford and Avera. A few weeks ago, projections showed the need for 750 hospital beds to handle cases. That number is now down to 500. Both hospitals combined have the capacity for about 1,700 cases. Right now, there are 64 people in the Sioux Falls area in the hospital for COVID-19.
“This is why we feel comfortable with making some of these changes. Because our health care partners are telling us we have capacity to handle these cases,” TenHaken said.
For business owners who need guidance, the city recommends looking at its SOAR program.
“There’s a business link that has different industry-specific guidelines and best practices for them. Some valuable downloadable PDFs as far as social distancing and what to do if a person is sick in your organization,” Jeff Eckhoff, City of Sioux Falls, said.
As we move forward, TenHaken says we all share a responsibility for slowing the spread.
“If a restaurant is open and they’re open for business, you don’t have to go there,” TenHaken said. “You need to decide what is best for your family. What is best for your business. What’s best for your situation.”
TenHaken said city leaders may adjust these guidelines based on any surge of cases moving forward.
If the ordinance is approved, the earliest it could take effect is May 8. Right now, the city hasn’t made a decision about opening up city pools.