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ND Smart Restart is about making choices

Gov. Doug Burgum’s ND Smart Restart allowed businesses across the state to begin the process of reopening late last week during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The governor’s guidelines also provide opportunities for businesses and individuals to continue to make choices that are best for them.

At the City of Minot, we’re taking a cautious approach by extending many of the changes that have been in place for the past few weeks. Our public buildings remain closed, and we’ll maintain the current temporary system of not allowing members of the public at meetings. We encourage the public to keep submitting comments and information through an online portal at minotnd.org and to watch our meetings on the City’s Facebook page, YouTube channel, and on local cable channel 19. Our City Council chambers have been rearranged to account for proper social distancing, so we’re prepared to handle more people when it’s safe and responsible to do that.

In the coming days, City department heads and other officials will work together to craft a reopening plan for the City that makes sense for our employees and members of the public. The health and well-being of everyone remains our top priority, and we believe taking a slow, cautious, and common sense approach to reopening is the best option for everyone.

If you own a small business, the governor’s guidelines allow you to reopen, but you are not mandated to do so. There will be business owners who choose to hold off on opening their doors again, for a variety of reasons. Perhaps it will be difficult for some businesses to have enough employees available, or maybe a business owner simply isn’t yet ready to have their employees interact with the public yet. There is no wrong answer; as always, business owners must do what they believe is best for their business.

As a consumer, you also have choices to make. Certainly, we want our residents and visitors to support local businesses, but if you do not feel comfortable yet venturing out in public to a restaurant, bar, or other business that’s recently reopened, that’s your choice. You can continue to do what you’ve been doing – stay home as much as possible and avoid large crowds. I strongly recommend supporting local businesses in a safe and responsible manner. As more businesses reopen, you will have a greater opportunity to do just that.

Here in Ward County, our number of positive cases remains low compared to other counties with large populations, and for that we must give credit to all of you. Clearly, we’re doing something right when it comes to social distancing and following recommendations of health professionals. Ward County ranks third in the number of tests in North Dakota, and despite our county having one of the earliest positive cases, our numbers have not dramatically spread in recent weeks. That’s obviously good news, and it’s a trend we want to see continue.

I would encourage you to continue following the advice of health care professionals. Stay home if you feel sick. If you do go out in public, practice good social distancing and stay six feet away from others who aren’t part of your immediate family. Use hand sanitizer, and wash your hands often. If you feel the need, wear a mask when you’re out in public; you’ll help protect yourself and others from potentially spreading the COVID-19 virus.

The recommendations and guidelines to help contain the virus spread aren’t really complicated, and we’ve seen that good things happen when we follow them. ND Smart is more than just a catchy phrase the governor likes to use – it is accurate. We’ve been smart up to this point, and that has helped slow the spread of COVID-19 in our state. Let’s all be smart and continue to make good decisions that are not only in our own best interests, but decisions that are good for our family, friends, and neighbors, too.

Sincerely, City Hall

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