Sioux Falls mayor proposes relaxing COVID-19 restrictions on some businesses
The Mayor of Sioux Falls has announced a plan to relax restrictions placed on some businesses to help slow the spread of COVID-19.
Mayor Paul TenHaken said on Thursday he will ask the City Council to rescind the existing "no lingering" ordinance and replace it with a new ordinance with lighter restrictions.
The current ordinance in place restricts businesses like restaurants and bars to ten patrons or fewer. TenHaken said he will hold a special City Council meeting Friday, asking the council to replace it with a law with looser guidelines that place more of the onus on businesses.
TenHaken said his proposed ordinance would ask restaurants and bars to adjust their accommodations to keep patrons at least six feet apart from each other. They could do this by moving tables or removing some seating. Other businesses, like gyms and theaters, would be limited to 50 percent of their fire code maximum occupancy.
The City Council would need to approve both a first reading Friday and a second reading before it becomes law. The earliest the proposed law could take effect is Friday, May 8.
Violating the new law would be a class two misdemeanor, the same as the current "no lingering" law.
TenHaken said businesses will also need to continue following CDC social distancing and hygiene guidelines.
"I know there's federal recommendations, state requirements, local recommendations. There's a lot of confusion, I've heard about, in the past few days," TenHaken said, adding he hopes the new ordinance helps clarify things.
Officials also spoke Thursday about options financial assistance options available to businesses amid the COVID-19 pandemic. You can find more about those options on the city's
, or by calling the 211 Helpline Center.
The mayor also announced Thursday that
TenHaken said the relaxed restrictions are possible due to the city's efforts in flattening the curve. He said the latest projection for the city's peak infection rate, expected to hit in late-May, suggest a greatly reduced peak capacity hospitalization rate.
The latest models project the city will need 500 beds. TenHaken said the city's health care providers can handle that load, or even higher, if the peak surpasses projections.
Regarding churches, TenHaken said churches were never required to close. However, the mayor recommended against large gathering for the time being, saying he hopes people will continue to follow social distancing guidelines.