Many of you have contacted me over the past week asking whether it is necessary for you to cease operations in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. To date, I have not provided you with a directive. However, many local businesses including some of our larger casinos have taken the steps, voluntarily, to cease operations until the threat of the pandemic passes.
While South Dakota has few diagnosed cases, the testing for COVID-19 is extremely limited and recent cases make clear that community spread has reached South Dakota. Before the voluntary closures made by our local casino owners, 90% of casinos across the United States, including all of the casinos in Nevada and New Jersey have been closed in an effort to help reduce community spread of COVID-19 and to give our medical professionals the opportunity to combat this disease.
At this time I am requesting you take the following actions: 1) Stop allowing patrons the option of dining in at restaurants immediately. The option of take out, curb side service or delivery may still be used. 2) Immediately cease all on-sale alcohol sales. 3) Close down your casinos temporarily until the COVID-19 threat has passed. While I recognize these decisions are difficult and impact many employees and their families, in addition to the strain they place upon you as business owners, just this morning the United State’s Surgeon General warned “the coronavirus outbreak will worsen this week’ and said that “people across the country are not taking the threat seriously enough”. The time to take things more seriously is now.
The Governor has recently taken the position that as municipalities we have the authority to shut down businesses for safety during this pandemic. I strongly encourage you to take these actions immediately in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19 throughout the United States and across South Dakota.
Again, at this time, you have the authority to make your own decisions with respect to your operations. I hope that you will make a wise decision in an effort to help everyone.
David R Ruth, Jr.