North Dakota businesses have been reopening for the past two weeks under the North Dakota Smart Restart Plan, but some business owners say the strict rules make it nearly impossible for them to open.
“It’s extremely expensive. The longer we go without any income coming in, it makes it pretty difficult,” said Denise Lindbo, co-owner of HighAir Ground Trampoline Park.
Denise Lindbo says the trampoline park thrives off of large groups. Before the closures, they hosted birthday parties and other large events, which go against the current North Dakota Smart Restart plan. But she says they had to take a risk and accept any cash flow that they could get.
She said, “We still have insurance, we still have rent, we still have a lot of stuff that we have to pay. We just have to pay our bills.”
As of now, the park is open six days a week, and not accepting groups of any size. They are allowing individuals in but no more than 80 people at a time.
But for another business in the Magic City, the option to invite any customer back just isn’t there.
“It’s just not even worth it,” said The Tap Room owner, John Lakoduk.
He says when he learned that restaurants and bars were going to be allowed to welcome back familiar faces, he was excited — until he realized what had to be done in order to reopen.
“It’s 50 percent of the capacity but social distancing still applies. So when we looked at it, it was like 14 percent capacity depending on how many people were sitting,” he said.
Along with limited operating capacity, standing in bars is not allowed. Barstool seating is allowed for one to two guests, but with 6 feet of separation between groups.
Lakoduk said, “It’s still not going to pay the bills to be open. And my time is more valuable than that to be doing something else to help the business survive instead of selling 12 beers in one day.”
He says he is waiting until Gov. Doug Burgum releases Phase 2 of the plan to decide what to do next, and even then it could still be months before he gets where he needs to be financially.
“It’s bittersweet because it’s like, ‘Oh yeah, life is getting back to normal,’ but for me, I don’t know what normal looks like now after this.”