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Rapid City Council Closes Bars, Restaurants, Recreational Businesses March 27 for Twelve Days

For mayors and governors who are unsure about their statutory authority to shut down bars and restaurants because of the few knuckleheads who still can’t figure out that going out in crowds is bad for everyone’s health and threatens our healthcare infrastructure, Rapid City Mayor Steve Allender and the Rapid City Common Council offer the following model local ordinance to shut down nonessential businesses to prevent the spread of the coronavirus:



WHEREAS, the City of Rapid City has the authority pursuant to SDCL 9-29-1 to pass ordinances for the purpose of promoting the health, safety, morals,and general welfare,of the community; and

WHEREAS, an outbreak of the disease COVID-19, which is caused by the novel coronavirus, has been confirmed in more than 100 countries, including the United States; and

WHEREAS, COVID-19 is a severe respiratory disease transmitted by person-to-person contact, or by contact with surfaces contaminated by the virus. In some cases, especially among older adults and persons with serious underlying health conditions, COVID-19 can result in serious illness requiring hospitalization, admission to an intensive care unit, and death; and

WHEREAS, the World Health Organization(WHO), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services have declared the outbreak of COVID-19 as a public health emergency; and

WHEREAS, on March 13, 2020, President Donald Trump declared a national emergency in response to the global pandemic of COVID-19; and

WHEREAS, on the same day, Governor Kristi Noem, issued Executive Order 2020-04 which declared a state of emergency to exist in the State of South Dakota in response to the spread of COVID-19; and

WHEREAS, cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in South Dakota; and

WHEREAS,the CDC and health experts have recommended social distancing to slow the spread of COVID-19; and

WHEREAS, social distancing is a method of slowing down or stopping the spread of a contagious disease by reducing the probability of contact between infected persons and those not infected in order to minimize disease transmission; and

WHEREAS, in response to the need to implement social distancing, all schools in the state of South Dakota have been closed for at least two weeks; and

WHEREAS,on March 16, 2020, the White Houseissued guidance recommending that social gatherings of more than ten people be avoided and that people avoid eating or drinking at bars, restaurants, and food courts; and

WHEREAS, the guidance issued by the White House further recommended that in states with evidence of community transmission, bars, restaurants, food courts, gyms, and other indoor and outdoor venues where people congregate should be closed; and

WHEREAS, many states and communities across the country have already implemented the White House recommendations by ordering all bars, restaurants, food courts, gyms, and other indoor and outdoor venues where people congregate be closed until the public health emergency is over; and

WHEREAS, the failure to successfully implement social distancing will likely result in higher numbers of infected individuals and has the potential to overwhelm the capacity of the City’s health care providers; and

WHEREAS, it is important that control measures be taken to reduce or slow down the spread of COVID-19 in order to protect the health and safety of the City’s residents, especially for seniors and those with underlying health conditions that make them particularly vulnerable to COVID-19; and

WHEREAS, the Mayor and City leadership have been in consultation with health professionals in the community and they are recommending that the actions recommended by federal authorities when there is evidence of community spread within a state be taken in Rapid City at this time; and

WHEREAS, while this ordinance cannot become legally effective for at least five (5) days due to the requirements of state law, the City strongly urges all businesses to start voluntarily complying with these regulations immediately.

NOW THEREFORE, BE IT ORDAINED, by the Common Council of the City of Rapid City that:

  1. Effective at 7:00 p.m. Friday, March 27, 2020, all restaurants, food courts, coffee houses, bars, breweries, distilleries, wineries, clubs, cafes and other similar places of public accommodation offering food and beverages for on-site consumption, including any alcohol licensees with on-sale privileges, are closed to on-site/on-sale patrons. These businesses may continue to operate in order to provide take-out, delivery, curbside service, and drive-thru service. Any business continuing to operate in order to provide off-site service should implement procedures to ensure social distancing and operate in compliance with federal and state health guidance in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19. This closure will remain in effect through Wednesday, April 8, 2020.
  2. Effective at 7:00 p.m. Friday, March 27, 2020, all recreational facilities, public pools, health clubs, athletic facilities and theaters, including movie theaters and music or entertainment venues are directed to close and cease operations. This closure will remain in effect through Wednesday, April 8, 2020.
  3. Effective at 7:00 p.m. Friday, March 27, 2020, all hookah lounges, cigar bars, vaping lounges or other similar businesses that allow for on-site consumption are directed to cease allowing on-site consumption, but may continue to offer products for sale to consume off-site under the same conditions as bars and restaurants outlined in paragraph #1. This closure will remain in effect through Wednesday, April 8, 2020.
  4. Effective at 7:00 p.m. Friday, March 27, 2020, all arcades, bingo halls, bowling alleys, casinos, indoor climbing facilities, skating rinks, trampoline parks, and other similar recreational or entertainment facilities are directed to close and cease operations. This closure will remain in effect through Wednesday, April 8, 2020.
  5. The prohibitions and closures in this order do not apply to the following businesses:
    1. Places of public accommodation that offer food and beverages for off-site consumption, including grocery stores, markets, retail stores that offer food, convenience stores, pharmacies, drug stores, and food pantries, other than any portion of such business which offer on-site consumption which would be subject to the requirements of paragraph #1.
    2. Room service in hotels.
    3. Health care facilities, residential care facilities, congregate care facilities, and correctional facilities.
    4. Crisis shelters, homeless shelters, soup kitchens, or other similar institutions.
    5. Airport concessionaires.
    6. Any emergency facilities necessary for the response to the current public health emergency or any other community emergency or disaster.
    7. Official meetings of the city, schools, county, or state.
    8. The operations and meetings of any state or federal courts.
  6. This ordinance shall remain in effect for a period of sixty (60) days, at which time it shall be automatically repealed unless specifically readopted for an additional period of time by the City Council. Any dates identified in the ordinance for closures to automatically end may be adjusted at any time within the sixty (60) day period covered by this ordinance by a resolution of the City Council.
  7. Any violation of this ordinance is subject to the general penalty provision in Section 1.12.010 of the Rapid City Municipal Code. Each day a violation of this ordinance is allowed to occur is considered a separate offense.

BE IT FURTHER ORDAINED, that, pursuant to SDCL 9-19-13, this ordinance is necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health, safety, and welfare of the City and shall become effective immediately upon passage [Rapid City Ordinance 6412, approved 2020.03.22].

The council approved this ban on dining and drinking out, seeing movies, bowling, hookah-lounging, and pretty much every other date-night option (looks like it’s straight to the couch, kids!) on a 7–2 vote. Monument Health (that’s Regional Health’s new brand) gave council members some cover before the meeting with this statement of support:

New predictive models allow us to use information we have learned about this illness from other locations and apply it locally to help make data-driven decisions. Although the actual number of cases we can expect is difficult to predict, data shows that all communities need to take further action to slow the spread. Recent history also shows that mitigation efforts including community-wide home quarantine, shutdown of non-essential businesses, restricting travel, closing schools, canceling events, social distancing and proper hygiene can all contribute to a lower number of cases.

To the extent that these actions are possible within our community and the country, we support our leaders in the difficult decisions they face. We must do all that we can to protect our communities [CEO Paulette Davidson and Chief Medical Officer Brad Archer, letter to Rapid City Common Council, 2020.03.22].

Dr. Archer would likely advise Rapid City residents and their visitors that the proper response to these closures is not to race out to the bars for a couple good final benders before they take effect Friday. The sensible response is what y’all should’ve been doing in the first place: staying home.

Watch over two hours of public discussion of the recreational-business shutdown on the Rapid City Common Council’s YouTube channel:


  1. Donald Pay 2020-03-23

    It’s pretty dumb to wait five days. How many people will contract COVID-19 in that time?

  2. jerry 2020-03-23

    Rules are what a democracy has. The mayor is following the rules, nothing dumb about it. What’s dumb is that a mayor has to take the responsibility to do something that a governor or county commissioners should have enacted.

  3. Buckobear 2020-03-23

    Did I miss Barbershops and beauty salons ??

  4. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2020-03-23

    No, Buck, you did not. The Rapid City ordinance targets recreational and entertainment venues, not personal care and beauty facilities.

  5. grudznick 2020-03-23

    Many, like grudznick, will suffer greatly without weekly barberings, but they, too, should be shuttered and nailed shut.

  6. jerry 2020-03-23

    GNOem blathers about some kind of nonsense like washing your hands…what a dud. Meanwhile, the mayor of Deadwood tells the casino’s to “take this seriously and close their doors”.

    Hmmm, ya gotta know when to fold’m and the mayor is clearly on the side of common sense in a gambling town.

    Thankfully, there are some mayors that understand their responsibility to all of their constituents….and then we have one term GNOem.

  7. jerry 2020-03-23

    The more I hear from this Rapid City mayor, the more I like what I hear from him rather than the dimwitted drivel from Pierre. If she really wanted to do something, Expand Medicaid.

    From the mayor of Rapid City: Rapid City Journal 3.23.20

    “An update on city operations from Mayor Steve Allender:

    • Fielding hundreds of messages relative to the proposed city ordinance closing or limiting certain businesses for public health reasons.

    • Civic Center is now locked-down.

    • The ambulance services continues to transport patients with symptoms consistent with COVID-19. Five such patients Sunday.

    • Casino robberies continue to be a problem. If the business closure city ordinance passes on 3-27, casinos will be closed. RPD will reevaluate strategy when this occurs.

    • The Parks and recreation office is now closed to the public, as are all public works buildings.

    • We are creating work-arounds for licensing processes, usually requiring a City Hall visit. Update will follow when available.

    • Cross-training is occurring between City divisions to ensure critical services remain consistent for the duration.

    • Rapid Transit volume is down, but now consistent. Best practices are being evaluated concerning continuation of service.

    • State Dept of Transportation has allowed work to resume on East Blvd reconstruction.

    • Rumor control continues to be a challenge. No, the airlines are not increasing air travel to Rapid City.

    • Strategic teams are being built to address or coordinate information on:

    Grocery and supply store supply chain and consumer activity.

    Food distribution from non-profit and other food sources.

    Emergency planning relative to medical providers

    Health services to establish points of contact and capacity.

    Financial, to include city budget status and federal disaster funding.

    Employee support to include benefits, day care and mental health.

    Communication to include consolidation and dissemination to/from City, County, State, health officials and public.”

  8. Debbo 2020-03-23

    Good. I too wondered about waiting till Friday. Does some type of ordinance require a 5 day delay?

  9. Donald Pay 2020-03-23

    Jerry is right. This is a new ordinance. Most modern cities have public health ordinances allowing them to take immediate action. My mayor has taken progressively stricter action about every other day over the last two weeks. Our ordinance gives the mayor power to shut everything down in a public emergency. I hope the RC ordinance gives the mayor the power, because it is simply not going to be good enough as is. Almost everything in Madison, WI, is shut down. Groceries and retail outlets that have necessities are open. I guess that includes pet supply stores, hardware, etc. Restaurants can deliver. Not sure if that includes my wine shop, but I’ll find out in about a week or two.

  10. Cathy 2020-03-24

    Yankton just passed a similar ordinance today, except it runs until April 28 and lists a lot more businesses. Section 1 made me chuckle: “all restaurants, coffee houses, bars, breweries,
    dance clubs, gentlemen’s clubs, cafes, and other similar places of public accommodation offering food and beverages for on‐site consumption, including any alcohol licensees with on‐sale privileges, are closed to on‐site/on‐sale patrons. These businesses may continue to operate in order to provide take‐out, delivery, curbside service, and drive‐thru service.” I got this sudden vision of the strippers and hookers doing take-out, delivery, curbside service, and drive-thru service.

  11. jerry 2020-03-24

    Strippers already thought of that

    “Uber Eats has nothing on these hustlers.

    In an effort to keep his dancers and kitchen staff employed during the coronavirus lockdown, a strip club owner in Portland, Ore., has created “Boober Eats.” The service brings pub fare, delivered by strippers clad in booty shorts and nipple pasties, straight to the customer’s door.”

  12. Cathy 2020-03-24

    :facepalm: @jerry

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