Rapid City Council to consider ordinance restricting certain businesses, gathering spaces

RAPID CITY, S.D. — Rapid City Mayor Steve Allender plans to introduce an ordinance in a special council meeting Sunday night to put restrictions on local businesses and gathering spaces in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a press conference Sunday afternoon, Allender says the tipping point in taking action came in response to the latest number of South Dakota coronavirus cases and their circumstances. Six new cases were announced in Beadle County Sunday morning, all either tied to travel or contact with cases nearby.

The Centers for Disease Control recommends closing businesses when evidence of community spread is present. Allender says it’s “fair to assume community spread is happening.”

The proposed ordinance, still under draft as of Sunday afternoon, will specifically define what businesses and organizations will be affected.

Allender says the ordinance will call for places “with public consumption” to close to on-site patrons. He encourages curbside or delivery services to continue during this time.

Recreational spaces like health clubs, theaters, music, and indoor sporting venues would close and cease operations.

Essential businesses like grocery stores, retail stores, drug stores, and food pantries are no included in the ordinance and are able to continue business. Crisis shelter and soup kitchens would remain open as well.

Allender described the ordinance as the “most significant action, that if passed, the council has taken since the [1972 Rapid City] flood.”

When it comes to enforcing an ordinance of this magnitude, Allender says citations could be issued but the goal is compliance in order to keep the community safe.

Should the ordinance pass in the special session, a second reading is required before the ordinance can go into effect. A second meeting is scheduled for Friday, March 27 at 6 p.m. in the Rapid City Common Council Chambers. The Mayor says businesses shouldn’t wait until Friday to begin following these guidelines because doing so would be “foolish and putting customers at risk.”

The ordinance could remain in effect for sixty days after passage but the ordinance itself mandates the closures through Wednesday, April 8. The council has the ability to extend the closures at any time. Council is scheduled to meet in regular session Monday, April 6.

Allender urges citizens to continue to exercise “social distancing” and suggests the practice is not being taken seriously in the area.

Given that grocery stores and drug stores are set to remain open, Allender says the public does not need to go out and purchase emergency supplies.

A second item will be taken up at Sunday night’s meeting – council members will be asked to repeal a resolution limiting electronic attendance to council meetings. The goal is to allow council members to fulfill their duties while following CDC guidelines for social distancing.

The meeting is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. Sunday in Council Chambers. The public can attend the meeting, however they are encouraged to watch live streams and email in their public commentary to pauline.sumption@rcgov.org which can be read into the meeting.

NewsCenter1 will carry the special session live online and on MyTV.

Categories: Coronavirus, Local News, South Dakota News