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Reopening is under way, but we must stay vigilant

The state of North Dakota has begun the deliberate and intentional process of reopening businesses through the North Dakota Smart Restart effort, providing businesses with guidelines for opening to their customers while following recommendations from health care experts.

In Minot, that process is also under way. Many businesses, including bars and restaurants, are working to follow the guidelines while at the same time safely welcoming customers back into their establishments. Not all businesses have chosen to reopen their doors yet, while others have slowly begun the process, with significant changes to their former operations. Every business owner must make these decisions in the best interest of their particular business; no two situations are the same. What works for one business may not be practical for another.

Much like private businesses, the City of Minot is planning for the reopening of buildings to the public and to allow public attendance at City Council and Planning Commission meetings. I am expecting those plans to be released in the very near future. Rest assured, when the City does begin to reopen, the process will be deliberate and will follow all guidelines from the governor’s office as well as health care recommendations.

One change that will be happening on Monday is the reopening of the Minot Municipal Court, which will return to holding scheduled court proceedings, albeit with noticeable and necessary changes. As outlined in this past week’s COVID-19 press conference, the layout of the court located inside the west side of the Municipal Auditorium has been changed to account for proper social distancing and other health recommendations. Anyone who needs to attend a court hearing should attend alone, wear a facemask or some other kind of face covering, and use the hand sanitizer stations located both in the hallway and in the courtroom. You can read more at www.minotnd.org/news.

Another change taking place this month concerns the daycare operation that was established to provide services to essential workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, including first responders, health care workers, and others. Since the service began as a partnership between the City of Minot, Minot Public Schools, Ward County, Trinity Health, First District Health Unit, and The Learning Tree, the plan was to end the daycare service at the conclusion of the public school year, which happens May 20. The daycare has been a great success, and stands as an example of what can be accomplished when everyone involved works together for the betterment of our entire community. Having this daycare service available allowed essential workers to focus on serving and protecting our community, knowing that their children were being taken care of in a safe, reliable setting. Kudos to everyone who was involved in creating and providing this necessary service. The City of Minot is proud to have played a role in this project.

Despite the ongoing COVID-19 issues, spring in North Dakota means construction season. Our engineers are out in the field doing what they do – overseeing projects and meeting with construction professionals, albeit in different ways due to social distancing guidelines. Work on flood protection continues, as does the expansion of the Minot Water Treatment Plant, the Minot Public Library’s protective facelift, and other projects. In addition, our City crews are out cleaning Minot’s streets and repairing potholes. City properties are being mowed and maintained. There are projects and ongoing maintenance duties that need to be handled in a timely manner, and our crews are on the job — even as they take extra precautions because of the ongoing pandemic. You can find more information about construction projects at www.minotnd.org/projects.

The discussion surrounding the methods of reopening both private businesses and government entities in this time of a global pandemic is complicated. Yes, businesses, schools, churches, and other organizations need to return to some semblance of normalcy to continue to serve our community and to ensure their long-term viability and success. But it must be done with care, and it must be done with purpose.

Much of the discussion centers on personal responsibility, as it should. If you feel comfortable going out to support local businesses, I’d encourage you to do it. If you aren’t quite ready to do that yet, that’s perfectly fine; it’s your choice. But, whatever you decide, please continue to follow the social distancing guidelines, wash your hands often, and stay home if you don’t feel well. If you do decide to visit stores and restaurants, wear a facemask for your own protection and to help protect your family, friends, and neighbors. The growth rate of positive COVID-19 cases in Ward County has been a slow one, which means what we’ve all been doing is working. Let’s continue to be smart about restarting our community.

Sincerely, City Hall.

You can find more about what’s happening at the City of Minot at minotnd.org, or find us on Facebook and Twitter. We’d also encourage you to sign up for our monthly electronic newsletter on our website.

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