Rapid City council approves first reading to close public businesses

RAPID CITY, S.D. (KBHB) — After a nearly three-hour special meeting Sunday night, the Rapid City Common Council approved first reading of an ordinance to close certain public businesses, like bars, restaurants, casinos and health clubs in responsde to COVID19.

The final vote was 7-2, with Lance Lehmann and John Roberts voting against the ordinance.  Aldermen and Mayor Steve Allender took two hours of public comment on both sides of the closing question; business owners told aldermen they were acting way ahead of any coronavirus even being present according to state testing, while supporters of the closures said the state testing numbers were many days off-track and many tests short of being accurate at all.

Another aspect of the argument for opponents of the close was the seeming targeting of small businesses, while big chain stores were kept on an essential-operation list but risking many more unprotected coronavirus exposures due to their business volume.

Aldermen voting in support of closures said the move was based on the recommendation of area doctors and health providers, to act well ahead of any local outbreak to keep from overwhelming the health system once the virus arrives.

The first orinance approved on Sunday’s agenda lifts more-than decade old moratorium banning phone or on-line attendance for council meetings, to allow for corona-virus separation and quarantine recommendations affecting future meetings.

Final reading on both ordinances will be at the next special meeting, set for this Friday night.  Any ordinance approved would go into immediate effect.