Grand Forks Police have taken reports of six "Smart Restart" violations of orders issued by Gov. Doug Burgum and state health officers, including one bar that did not comply with a shutdown order and four people who are suspected of disobeying quarantine orders.
Burgum first declared a state of emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic on March 13. On March 20, Burgum ordered food establishments to suspend dine-in operations and other recreational facilities and nonessential businesses to close. An order April 29 allowed those businesses to reopen May 1 under strict Smart Restart guidelines. On April 8, the state health officer ordered all those who test positive for COVID-19 to isolate in their homes for seven days; that confinement period was lengthened to 10 days on May 8. On April 10, the state health officer ordered household contacts of people who have tested positive for COVID-19 to quarantine in their homes for 14 days.
Police and Grand Forks Public Health have the authority to investigate suspected violations of the executive orders. Investigation reports are then forwarded either to the Grand Forks County State's Attorney Office or the Grand Forks City Attorney's Office, said Grand Forks City Attorney Howard Swanson. If either of those offices decide enforcement is necessary, they could pursue that through court-ordered injunctive relief, or through a targeted order from the local health officer.
Violation of a governor's order is punishable as an infraction, Swanson said. Violation of a mayor's order, a local health officer's order, or a state health officer's order – including confinement orders – is punishable as a misdemeanor. Swanson said on Friday, May 15, that there have yet to be any complaints in Grand Forks that have risen to enforcement action, and the local health officer has yet to issue any orders.
April 22: At noon, officers received a request from Grand Forks Public Health to investigate Broken Drum Bar at 1503 S. Washington St. for possible failure to comply with the governor's order for restaurants to suspend dine-in operations. Upon arrival, officers found five people sitting at the bar and one person seated at a table. Officers told the manager that as part of the governor's order, people at the bar should not have drinks, and the person at the table should not have a plate of food. The manager told the officer he understood the rules. The officer told the manager he would report his observations back to Grand Forks Public Health, and the incident is classified as "violation of a governor's executive order or proclamation."
April 22: Between noon and 1 p.m., officers were dispatched to Menards at 3550 32nd Ave. S., where a store manager reported asked a man to leave the store because he was an LM Wind Power employee. When reached by officers, the man said he had tested negative for COVID-19. The officer informed the man that he could still be an asymptomatic carrier of the virus, and that he needed to obey the quarantine order until April 30 or face a maximum penalty of a $1,000 fine.
The officer also reached out to an LM Wind Power manager to learn what information they were sending to employees about the quarantine order. The manager said they have sent numerous texts and emails to employees about the quarantine order, and have been clear that all employees are not to leave their homes regardless of their COVID-19 test results. The manager said he would reach out to the LM Wind Power HR director to deal with the issue. The incident is classified as "failure to obey a communicable disease confinement order."
April 23: At 2:16 p.m., an officer was dispatched to Rydell's at 2700 S. Washington St. Upon arrival, officers were informed by an employee that a man had pulled into their service department for an oil change, got out of the car, took his mask off, went into the waiting area and took his shoes off. The employee told officers that they saw an LM Wind Power parking sticker in the vehicle's window, and they became concerned that the man should be in quarantine.
The man left prior to officers' arrival, and police were unable to contact the vehicle's registered owner. The incident is classified as a health or safety violation.
April 24: At 6:03 p.m., officers were dispatched to Ninth Avenue South and Reeves Drive for a report of a stray dog. A caller reported that she had encountered the dog while out in the neighborhood walking her own dog. The officer was informed by dispatch that this caller was considered to be a "high-risk contact," as she had been identified by the health department as having recent close contact with someone who had tested positive for COVID-19.
When the officer arrived, the dog was taken into custody, and when he spoke with the caller, he confirmed that she had been in contact with an infected person twelve days prior. The officer informed her that she should still be in quarantine, and not out walking her dog in the neighborhood. She apologized, said she was not aware that she needed to quarantine, and said she would return home. The incident is classified as "failure to obey a communicable disease confinement order."
April 24: At 6:12 p.m., officers responded to a call of an unwanted subject on the 1100 block of 22nd Avenue South. Upon arrival, the reporting party told officers that the subject, who is known to her, had come into her home intoxicated. She told officers that the man is an employee of LM Glass Fiber, that he was coughing while in her residence, and that she wanted him to leave.
The man told officers that he was not an employee of LM Glass Fiber and that he was not supposed to be quarantined, but upon further investigation, he was in fact found to be an LM employee who had been ordered to quarantine. The incident is classified as "failure to obey a communicable disease confinement order," and the health department and LM Glass Fiber are conducting their own investigations into the incident, according to the report.
May 9: This case is considered active, and so very limited information is available about the incident. The report states that it was opened at 1:22 p.m. at the Walmart on Gateway Drive, and is classified as "failure to obey a communicable disease confinement order."