Sioux Falls Mayor stresses importance of social distancing, personal responsibility as businesses reopen

Coronavirus

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken says flexibility is key in the coming days in the fight against COVID-19.

A no mingling ordinance was passed by the Sioux Falls City Council on Thursday. This will open up more businesses in the city, though there are limitations on the number of people who can be inside a business.

TenHaken says he calls this permissive legislation. It will allow people to go out and do more in the community, if they choose to do so.

TenHaken says the city will be carefully watching case numbers with this new ordinance in place.

As of Friday, for the Sioux Falls Metro area, which includes Minnehaha, Lincoln, McCook and Turner Counties, the percent of positive cases is 22.7%. TenHaken said positive case percentage and hospitalizations are important indicators of COVID-19 spread in the community.

TenHaken says people are still expected to maintain social distancing and wear a mask while in public. TenHaken also said while regulations have been loosened in the city, there’s still a lot to do for protecting public health. He pointed out that younger people can be carriers of the virus, though it tends to be older people who are hospitalized or even dying from the virus.

When asked if he’ll go to restaurants, bars or shopping with his family, TenHaken said he personally will not. He said each person has to make their own decisions.

The mayor announced the reopening of City Hall and the City Center on Monday, May 18, in a limited capacity.

At City Hall, the service counter on the ground floor will reopen for public utility billing and public parking services. Customers using this counter will be asked to social distance until protective barriers are installed. Members of the public needing services from the offices of Human Resources, Human Relations, City Attorney, GIS and Finance will need to make appointments. Phone numbers for these departments are available at siouxfalls.org.

The service counter at the City Center will also reopen to the public for normal business. Customers accessing services at this counter will be asked to social distance. People may be asked to schedule follow-up appointments for complex planning needs and permit applications. As a reminder, many permits can be processed online at siouxfalls.org.

As for sports events, pools and athletic leagues, TenHaken said more decisions will be made around May 29. He said it allows the new ordinance to “breathe a little bit.” He said leagues need to submit plans to the city on measures they’ll take to operate in a new environment.

He pointed out that while the city generally hires a number of employees for parks and rec during the summer that hasn’t happened yet this year. He said the city will have limited resources and leagues will need to help find solutions.

Mayor TenHaken says he expects the Great Plains Zoo will open soon ‘with a new experience’, possibly limiting access to indoor exhibits, but allowing visitors to see animals outside. He says he’s waiting to see its reopening plan.

On bus routes, TenHaken said the city council extended limited transit services. It will be reviewed again on Tuesday. TenHaken said the demand for the service isn’t high and the drivers have been impacted with positive COVID-19 cases or being quarantined due to COVID-19 exposure.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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