Gov. Doug Burgum on Wednesday elevated 16 North Dakota counties including Burleigh and Morton to “high risk” as COVID-19 cases continue to rise, but there will be no business closures under updated state guidelines.
The counties are being moved up from “moderate” risk, or yellow in the middle of the state’s five-level color-coded system. The risk level determines what sort of coronavirus-related protocols are in place under the ND Smart Restart Plan for everything from businesses to family gatherings. The protocols are not enforced.
Under the original guidelines, the move to orange, or “high” risk, would entail measures that were put in place for a time last spring: businesses such as hair salons and fitness centers would close, restaurants would be limited to takeout and delivery, and schools would close and go to distance learning. Those measures are being shifted to the red, or “critical” risk, level, effective 5 p.m. Friday.
The new guidelines “better recognize and understand what we know about transmission, again, focusing on those things that reduce transmissible moments,” Burgum said during a public coronavirus briefing at the Capitol.
“One of the things we know now that we didn’t last spring is that large gatherings continue to be a major source of community spread,” he said.
Businesses in orange counties will be restricted to 25% occupancy with a cap of 50 people, and the state is encouraging them to require face masks. Businesses in yellow counties are restricted to 50% occupancy with a cap of 100 people, and in green “low risk” counties to 75% occupancy with a cap of 200 people.