City Council rejects measure to ease regulations; meeting again Wednesday

ABERDEEN, S.D. ( – Members of the Aberdeen City Council voted no Monday night on a measure that would have eased regulations that have closed or hindered many businesses in an attempt to curtail the spread of COVID-19.

For now, at least.

The substitute ordinance that would have replaced the existing emergency ordinance will be discussed again at special meeting at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Some of the council members said they are in favor of easing the regulations, but wanted more time for themselves and the public to see the new proposal that was finalized about an hour before the council meeting.

By Wednesday evening, the council will get input from a committee it organized to discuss the topic, know what Gov. Kristi Noem’s plans are to help businesses reopen and see what other cities have done around South Dakota.

Until then, the emergency ordinance remains in place. Here’s what it does:

  • Closes restaurants, bars, casinos, coffee houses and similar businesses to dine-in customers, but does not prohibit drive-thru, curbside or delivery services.
  • Closes all indoor recreational facilities. Tobacco and vaping shops are not allowed to offer on-site consumption of products.
  • Prevents tattoo parlors, beauty salons, barber shops, spas, massage studios and other personal care facilities from providing on-site services.
  • Prevents public gatherings of 10 people or more where there is not sufficient space to provide a 6-foot separation between people.

Specific businesses like grocery stores, convenience stores, crisis shelters, pharmacies, health care facilities, day care facilities and correction facilities and churches are not affected.

The substitute amendment would have allowed many affected businesses to start reopening and offering more services, but would not have rolled back all of the regulations to business as usual before the arrival of the virus.

It would have, among other things:

  • Limited capacity in bars, restaurants and casinos to 10 customers or one customer for every 120 square feet of the building blueprint, whichever is greater.
  • Limited capacity at indoor recreation facilities and fitness businesses to a maximum of 10 customers or one for every 200 square feet, whichever is greater.
  • Required hand-washing at regular intervals for all restaurant, bar and food service employees.
  • Reduced seating to allow for social distancing by removing chairs or marking certain areas as not available.
  • Required six feet of separation between customers waiting for service or entry.
  • Required employees of hair and nail salons and barber shops to wear masks covering their mouth and nose.
  • Encouraged businesses to conduct daily employee screenings for illness.
  • Required all businesses to operate in compliance with CDC guidelines and state regulations or executive orders.

A violation would be a misdemeanor punishable by as much a 30 days in jail and a $500 fine.

The proposal fell on a 6-3 vote. Councilmen Josh Rife and Alan Johnson and Mayor Travis Schaunaman voted yes. Councilmen Mark Remily, Rob Ronayne, Clint Rux, Dave Lunzman, Dennis “Mike” Olson and Dave Bunsness voted no.

Business owners, including David Novstrup of Allevity Entertainment and Thunder Road, Duane Sutton of The Millstone and Fallon Helm of Revive Day Spa asked the council to approve the measure. Most council members said that businesses need to be able to reopen soon, but many who voted no said they want to get the process and details right.

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