Burgum closes North Dakota bars, restaurants to foot traffic

The Toasted Frog co-owner, Shawn Clapp, takes a phone order late Thursday hours after closing the bar and in restaurant dining due to the coronavirus pandemic. The restaurant was offering takeout and curbside service and will start delivery on Friday. Photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

Bars, restaurants, breweries, cafes and similar businesses across North Dakota are closed to on-sale and on-site patrons, Gov. Doug Burgum ordered Thursday, March 19.

The governor’s order came a few hours after Grand Forks Mayor Mike Brown said he planned to order residents to stop congregating in bars and restaurants to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Brown said he planned to formally announce that decision at 2:15 p.m., but later said he planned on “synchronizing” it with Burgum’s announcement at 4.

Both directives would have allowed -- and do allow -- carryout and delivery service, Brown and Burgum stressed, and both are built upon emergency declarations each made in the recent past.

The governor’s order presumably pre-empts the mayor’s as far as those businesses go, but Brown also said his might extend to others, such as nail salons and hairdressers, which Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz ordered closed in that state on Tuesday, March 17.

Brown also indicated that he could ultimately bar people from congregating in large numbers at all.


“We need people to practice safe social distancing,” he said.

Brown has the power to do that because of an emergency declaration he made on Monday evening. The declaration gives him a suite of powers that range from dramatic -- enacting quarantines and closing businesses -- to more mundane ones, such as closing city streets.

On Tuesday, Brown used his emergency powers to close Grand Forks City Hall and all other city buildings to the public. He also used it to order nonessential personnel to work from home.

As a public service, the Herald opened this article to everyone regardless of subscription status.

Mike Brown mug.jpg
Mike Brown, mayor of Grand Forks.

Joe Bowen is an award-winning reporter at the Duluth News Tribune. He covers schools and education across the Northland.

You can reach him at:
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