SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — It’s only been a week and a half since college students returned to the University of South Dakota, but already there have been 212 cases of COVID-19 self-reported among students and employees.
That’s why the town of Vermillion made some changes to their normal operations.
On Thursday, all Vermillion bars and restaurants decided to close earlier than usual at 10 p.m., and those new hours are continuing through this weekend. The reason for this change is COVID-19.
“Everyone came together as a group and after kind of seeing the numbers and seeing where kind of a concentrated area was going on, we all collectively got together and made a group decision of going, this is what’s best for our community,” Chad Grunewaldt said.
Grunewaldt owns the Old Lumber Company Bar and Grill. He says the goal of the temporary hours this weekend is to slow the spread of COVID-19.
“It economically affects everyone so the more we can slow the spread and keep people in town, the better it is for our community as a whole,” Grunewaldt said.
USD President Sheila Gestring hopes that students won’t substitute those hours away from the bar for house parties.
“Just take a few minutes, step back, settle down for the weekend, see if we can’t slow this spread a little bit. And order some take out and support those businesses for making this sacrifice for the students and for the university,” Gestring said.
Nate Welch, the President and CEO of the Vermillion Chamber and Development Company, says it was humbling to see the businesses in the city come together for that decision. He echoes Gestring’s sentiments.
“If you might not be affected and you feel it’s okay to go to these house parties or you go to places where there’s a lot of people, try to help just hold back on that. There’s plenty of time for all of us to enjoy that once we get through it, but right now is just not the best time,” Welch said.
USD also made some temporary changes on campus for this weekend. The Muenster University Center is not permitting indoor dining this weekend, outside visitors are not allowed in the residence halls and the Wellness Center is closed.
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