Gov. Doug Burgum today announced he will lift restrictions that were placed on businesses to slow the spread of the coronavirus, while implementing new guidelines and standard operating procedures for businesses as they resume or continue operations during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are well-positioned for a North Dakota Smart Restart,” Burgum said. “We would not be in this position if not for the great people of North Dakota finding a way to practice hygiene and social distancing and the work of the fantastic Team ND members.”
The business restrictions under Executive Order 2020-06.3 are set to expire Thursday, April 30. The order requires the closure of recreational facilities, health clubs and athletic facilities; theaters, including movie theaters and music/entertainment venues; bars and restaurants except for take-out, delivery, curbside and drive-through; licensed cosmetologists, including salons and barber shops; and personal care services including tattoo parlors, tanning and massage facilities.
Burgum said if current favorable trends hold during the next couple of days, he intends to allow the executive order to expire Thursday. It will be replaced with an order allowing those businesses to reopen under Phase 1 rules in the North Dakota Smart Restart plan, which will be unveiled Tuesday, April 28. Operating guidelines will be issued for all industries as well.
Burgum noted that reopening of businesses will be voluntary for those that can meet the guidelines. Those who are teleworking are encouraged to continue doing so, and schools will continue to administer distance learning to students.
“The vast majority of North Dakota’s economy has remained open through this crisis. Our success against the coronavirus has hinged on a low-mandate, high-compliance approach, and North Dakotans have done their part to slow the spread through social distancing and other measures,” Burgum said. “Now, as we move into the next stage with an even lighter touch of government mandates, we’re counting even more on the individual responsibility of citizens and employers.”
During a phone call this afternoon with President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, Burgum highlighted that North Dakota is using less than 1 percent of its hospital capacity for COVID-19 patients, ranks sixth in the nation in testing per capita, and has the fifth-lowest positive test rate, at 4.2 percent. Testing and contact tracing of positive cases continues to grow more robust as well, Burgum told the President, noting the Care19 app already has more than 25,000 participants.
Burgum expressed confidence that the state has met six of the eight criteria he outlined April 15 for a North Dakota Smart Restart, and noted work continues to check the box this week on the remaining two criteria: 1) protections for the state’s most vulnerable populations, including those in long-term care facilities, and 2) the standard operating procedures that will be released Tuesday. The other six criteria are:
- Widespread, rapid testing capacity
- Robust contact tracing and infrastructure
- Targeted, effective quarantine
- Sufficient health care capacity, hospital/ICU beds
- Adequate PPE availability for the health care system and public
- Plans for dealing with a resurgence or additional waves of COVID-19.
“North Dakota Smart Restart is a roadmap to a better, safer and healthier tomorrow for employers, employees and customers alike,” Burgum added. “It will apply not only to those businesses affected by executive orders, but to all businesses as we enter this new normal. All along, we’ve expected businesses that remained open to adhere to our guidance and hygiene recommendations to protect themselves and their team members.”
Burgum said the fight against COVID-19 is far from over.
“The coronavirus remains as contagious as ever and just as threatening to those most vulnerable – the elderly and those with underlying health conditions,” he said. “For their safety, we urge them to continue to stay home and avoid large gatherings even after businesses begin to reopen under the new guidelines. Together, we will move ahead with a continued emphasis on saving both lives and livelihoods.”
The NDDoH today confirmed 75 additional cases of COVID-19 out of 1,987 tests – a new record high for tests in a 24-hour period. That brings the state’s total to 942 confirmed cases, including 573 active cases. Twenty-three people are currently hospitalized; 350 have recovered and 19 people with COVID-19 have died, including two reported today, both men in their 80s from Cass County with underlying health conditions. Burgum extended deepest sympathies and prayers to their loved ones.