UPDATE: Brookings City Council removes ‘Phase II’ discussion from agenda

Published: Oct. 19, 2020 at 10:54 PM CDT
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BROOKINGS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - UPDATE, Oct. 20: The Brookings City Council has reversed course on plans to discuss expanding the city’s COVID-19 restrictions at its next meeting.

The city removed an agenda item discussing “Phase II” coronavirus restrictions prior to Tuesday night’s meeting.

Brookings Public Information Officer Chelsie Bakken tells Dakota News Now it was removed “as a request from the majority of city council.”

Officials have implemented a number of measures to slow the spread of COVID-19 in the city, including a mask mandate. Phase II included stronger measures yet, including requiring certain businesses to temporarily close. Some of these measures were enacted early in the pandemic, but had since been removed. However, the recent surge in cases has prompted city leaders to again consider stronger steps.

The agenda still includes plans to discuss renewing existing protocols to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

On Tuesday, the city of Brookings will be taking a look at current mandates that are already in place, but they’ll also have a hearing on the possibility of implementing phase two.

One of the current ordinances mandates masks for indoor public spaces & businesses.

Brookings Councilman Wendell said, “The other ordinance that Brookings currently has in place is one that limits capacity in bars and restaurants to 50%. So, that’s an ordinance that’s been in place in Brookings since last Spring.”

The City follows phased approach recommended by the CDC, which is based on the number of positive cases within the community.

Councilman Wendell says Brookings County is considered substantial spread.

So, the meeting will also include a hearing from health officials on a phase two plan-which would include the temporary closure of businesses in certain sectors.

“I’m not in favor of us moving to phase two at this point. So, we’re doing a first reading because we’ve hit some of those thresholds and if this situation gets much worse, quickly then we need to be prepared to take action quickly. But, I don’t know the there’s appetite among the council right now, and just speaking for myself as a counselor, to adopt any stricter action,” said Wendell.

Todd Voss, co-owner of Wild Hare in Brookings, says the he thinks the local officials should look at other areas in the community that could be contributing to the spread of COVID-19.

Voss said, “I have no problem doing my share and getting this under control, but I think they need to look at some of the other places where the possible spread is. There’s a lot more people at Walmart than there is at my bar.”

With business already down tremendously compared to last year, Voss worries about what could be in store for the future of local businesses like his.

“Our numbers are about 10% of what they normally are. If they shut us down again, I’m not so sure a lot of them can survive as is, but if they shut us down it’ll be the end for sure of some businesses,” said Voss.

Wendell said, “I think one of my responsibilities is ensuring that we’re taking the reasonable action that we could take to ensure that our businesses can remain open and that our schools and university can continue unperson instruction.”

These meetings are open to the public to watch either on local cable access channel, online live stream or in person at city hall as long as you wear a mask.

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