Burgum executive order issues statewide mask mandate, business restrictions, winter sports delay

Jack Williams
Devils Lake Journal
FILE - In this April 10, 2020, file photo, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum speaks at the state Capitol in Bismarck, N.D. North Dakota and South Dakota have the nation's worst rate of coronavirus deaths per capita in the last 30 days. Despite advances in treating coronavirus patients, hundreds more people in the Dakotas have died in recent weeks than during any other time of the pandemic.

Friday night North Dakota governor Doug Burgum announced an executive order that would implement a statewide mask mandate, new business restrictions, and the delay of winter sports. The announced orders will go into effect from Nov. 14 to Dec. 14.  

The order requires individuals to wear face coverings in indoor businesses and public settings, and outdoor public settings where physical distancing is not available. Exceptions include children under 5 years old, individuals with a medical or mental health condition or disability where it might be unreasonable to wear a mask, and religious services, as long as the individual is maintaining a physical distance. 

For bars, restaurants, and food service establishments, licensed capacity is limited to 50 percent, and an establishment is not allowed to exceed 150 patrons. In-person service is not allowed between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m., but takeout, curbside, and delivery will be allowed within those hours. Counties that move into the "high risk" category, issued weekly by the North Dakota Department of Health, will be limited to 25 percent capacity. 

NDHSAA fall sports postseason championships will be allowed to continue as planned, but the start of winter sports will be delayed until Dec. 14. This also applied to sporting organized events outside of the NDHSAA. 

Banquet, ballroom, and event venues are limited to 25 percent of their maximum occupancy, in reference to the new capacity limits issued by the state. Physical distancing and masks are required for the safety of all venue personnel and patrons.  

For Lake Region sports, the Region 4 volleyball championship will still commence and so will the NDHSAA Volleyball State Tournament. 13 basketball teams, two hockey teams, and a wrestling team are impacted by the high school level. Lake Region State College basketball and volleyball programs do not start playing competitively until January.  

Burgum said that the state will make a $54 million hospitality grant available for business and has made $70 million available through the Bank of North Dakota to but down interest on eligible existing debt for any business whose revenue was impacted negatively by COVID-19. 

The actions by the state come in response to North Dakota's climbing hospitalization rates due to COVID-19 and the state's overall increase in COVID-19 cases. North Dakota currently has the worst outbreak of COVID-19 in the United States per capita. Currently, every county in the state is listed as "high risk" by the North Dakota Department of Health's Smart Restart map. 

Devils Lake and Ramsey County have already implemented legislation recommending the usage of face coverings in public places as Ramsey County's cases continue to rise. 

“We believe in North Dakotans. We believe in the power of individual responsibility. And we need individual responsibility now more than ever to slow the spread of COVID-19,” Burgum said in the press release. 

Jack Williams covers Lake Region sports and general news for The Devils Lake Journal. Contact him via email at JGWilliams1@gannett.com, on Twitter @jackgwilliams, or phone at 701-662-2127.