The Republican governor of North Dakota, Doug Burgum, has issued a new set of restrictions, including a statewide mandate to stop the spread of COVID-19 in the conservative state. The restrictions which the governor announced on Friday will commence Monday, November 16, and end on December 14, USA Today reports.
Residents are to use masks in indoor establishments and public environments both indoors and outdoor especially outdoor public environments where people have to stand within 6 feet of others. Children who are younger than 5, inhabitants with an underlying physical or mental health condition that will inhibit the use of masks, and people involved in religious services are exempted from the mask mandate according to the executive order which was signed by Dirk Wilke, Interim State Health Officer in North Dakota.
“It is an effective tool in the prevention of COVID-19, that is why we are urging residents to wear it,” Wilke said about facial coverings.
Restrictions against COVID-19 have been almost non-existent in both North and South Dakota and public health care experts have raised concerns that this could cause public health emergencies in the states. Last week, the North Dakota Nurses Association petitioned the governor to issue a statewide mask mandate and other COVID-19 safety measures.
The governor’s executive order also includes a limitation on the operation of bars and restaurants. The establishments will be limited to 50% of their original capacity which should regardless, not be more than 150 patrons at a time. Foodservice businesses can only operate in-person services between 4 pm and 10 pm daily though take-out, delivery, and curbside services are exempted under the new restrictions, the Hill writes.
The restrictions will also discontinue high school winter sports and other extracurricular school activities to ensure that schools can continue in-person classes. Students, facilitators, and other personnel in schools must however always wear their masks and observe physical distancing rules. Inhabitants of the state have also been urged to avoid gatherings except between members of a household, especially during the holidays.
The governor told reporters that the state needs its inhabitants to be responsible and obey the rules to help stop the spread of the infectious disease. According to the North Dakota Department of Health, there are almost 11,000 active cases of COVID-19 in North Dakota and the state has recorded 60,602 cases in total since the pandemic started.
The sudden spike of infections in the state has negatively impacted the health care system in the state which many experts already say is below the United States standard. North Dakota hospitals currently have limited health care workers and space for treating infected patients. On Monday, Burgum decided to allow infected health care workers to keep attending to patients in the coronavirus unit.
South Dakota is also recording a spike in infection rates as well as death rates. Health care experts have likened the situation in the two states to that of a war-torn third world country which has no resources to curb the spread of the coronavirus. Kristi Noem, the Republican governor of South Dakota has however refused to announce a mask mandate or any other restrictions in the state.
Noem has praised President Donald Trump for “allowing me to do my job” by not enforcing a nationwide mask mandate and told reporters that the COVID-19 pandemic “can’t be stopped”. In response to president-elect Joe Biden’s intention to enforce a nationwide mask mandate, her office gave a statement explaining that state funds will not be used to implement any COVID-19 order coming from the federal government.