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What ‘high risk’ means for bars and restaurants under ND Smart Restart guidance

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During Gov. Doug Burgum’s weekly coronavirus press briefing held Monday, he moved all counties in North Dakota to high risk.

What that means for businesses standards for bars and restaurants specifically is reduced capacity.

We spoke to a local brewery owner who shares the measures he’s already implemented, and why.

“We’re announcing that we’re moving all remaining counties from yellow to orange. This would indicate the seriousness of the situation,” said Gov. Burgum.

The North Dakota Smart Restart Guidance calls for just 25 percent capacity with a maximum of 50 people.

It’s also recommended that businesses require masks or face coverings.

But these are just strong recommendations, not mandates, meaning the businesses don’t have to follow them by law.

Eric Johnson is a co-owner of Atypical Brewery and Barrelworks in Minot.

He says he and his business partner implemented safety measures before Ward County was moved to high risk like requiring masks and limiting capacity.

“We just feel like it’s the responsible thing to do. It’s been shown to help slow the spread. Obviously, we don’t have any cure for it now but we’re seeing now the hospitals starting to get overwhelmed a little bit and so we’re just trying to do our part to help,” Johnson said.

He says it was a bit of a learning curve at first.

“We got a lot of questions like, ‘Well, how am I supposed to drink a beer with a mask on?’ We’re not asking you to keep it on the whole time or drink it through a straw under your mask or anything like that. When you’re up and ordering a beer, you’re moving around, you’re passing another table, you’re going to the bathroom– put your mask on. When you get to your table with your close-knit family or group of friends, feel free to take it off,” Johnson said.

He adds that like many other businesses, the brewery had to shut down in March because of the pandemic. And he says you can do your part to stop that from happening again.

“Comply with the ‘ask’ of social distancing and wearing a mask. People talk about wanting to go back to their everyday lives, if you just wear a mask, for the most part, you sort of can. I think that would help everyone if we all got on board together,” Johnson said.

And what Johnson is asking, is exactly what Governor Burgum asks of North Dakotans, as well.

“One of the most cost-effective ways that we can keep our businesses open, and our schools open and our hospitals operating is the two simple things that require individual responsibility: physically distance and wearing masks,” Burgum said.

Atypical Brewery has also made its “craft Saturdays” virtual. Those interested can pick up the packet at the brewery and then do it at home.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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