Sioux Falls City Council passes ordinance reducing some COVID-19 restrictions

Published: May. 7, 2020 at 12:20 PM CDT
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The Sioux Falls City Council has passed an ordinance reducing COVID-19 restrictions on certain businesses.

The council approved the new ordinance in a 7-1 vote in a special session Thursday morning. It replaces the city's

ordinance, which restricted all non-essential businesses to ten patrons or less.

Mayor Paul TenHaken dubbed the new law the "no mingling" ordinance. It goes into effect Friday, May 8.

Under the new ordinance, food service business like restaurants and bars must keep all patrons or groups seated at least six feet apart. The new law allows businesses to host as many patrons as they can while following the six-foot guidelines, as opposed to the previous law mandating ten patrons or less. Groups must consist six adults or less. Minor are not included in group limits.

Businesses like recreational facilities, athletic and health clubs, and entertainment venues are limited to 50% of their posted fire code capacity under the ordinance.

All other businesses "are expected to maintain social distancing between parties" and should continue to follow the CDC's social distancing guidelines under the new ordinance.

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Special City Council Meeting on COVID-19 in Sioux Falls. ••• For the latest news happening NOW download the Dakota News Now app. Apple: Google Play:

Posted by Dakota News Now on Thursday, May 7, 2020

“Based on the best available data, this ordinance is the right step for Sioux Falls’ public health and economy at this time,” TenHaken said, via a press release. “Now is certainly not the time to declare victory over COVID-19 or completely turn off the faucet on our mitigation efforts. We are, however, at a point based on updated projections by the City, Avera and Sanford Health, where we can ease some of the mitigation efforts.”

City Health Director Jill Franken said businesses that have any questions about the new law can work with the city through the recently established


During the meeting, several council members voiced the idea that while the city will continue to deal with COVID-19 for the foreseeable near future, businesses needed relief in order to continue operating.

Councilor Patt Starr was the lone vote against the new ordinance.

An amendment put forth by Council Theresa Stehly would have added a June 5 sunset date on the ordinance, requiring the council to discuss it again at that point. Other councilors argued the council is continuously assessing the situation, so the date is not needed. Councilors voted 4-4 on the amendment, and TenHaken broke the tie by voting it down.