Sioux Falls joins a growing list of cities considering relaxed restrictions on businesses. The city council will consider replacing the ten-patron limit on certain businesses at a special meeting Friday.
Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken says the council will consider an ordinance allowing restaurants and bars to open at full capacity as long as they follow social distancing guidelines.
“So what we mean by that is, Joe’s Restaurant can normally serve 100 people. That’s their occupancy. They can now readjust the set up of their seating area to have seating areas in six feet chunks," TenHaken explains. "So we’re not gonna be looking at the occupancy of restaurants, we’re gonna be looking at their seating set ups.”
Other businesses like theaters or bowling alleys can open at 50% of their legal occupancy under the new ordinance. If passed, the new ordinance is enforceable with up to 30 days in prison and up to a $500 fine.
TenHaken was a strong critic of the governor’s decision not to issue stricter shutdown orders, but he’s now adopted a similar message of personal responsibility.
“If a restaurant is open, and they’re open for business, you don’t have to go there," he says. "You have to make the decision if you’re comfortable going there. If a park is open, you don’t have to go there.”
TenHaken says local health systems are now prepared for the projected surge of COVID-19 cases, and that’s what’s informing the relaxed restrictions.
The earliest the new ordinance could be adopted is next Friday.