Earlier this week North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum outlined the guidelines for the state’s North Dakota Smart Restart plan. Under the plan, the governor “encourages you to embrace the North Dakota Smart Restart plan as a roadmap to a better, safer and healthier tomorrow for employers, employees and customers alike”.
Under the plan bars and restaurants can reopen with capacity limited to 50% of normal operation. In restaurants, the state wants 6-feet of space between tables, and tables will be limited to 10 people. Standing in bars will not be allowed and recommendations call for 6-feet of separation between groups.
As a media company serving the Red River Valley, we have been in constant contact with business owners, managers, employees, and their customers throughout March and April as they have focused entirely on take-out, curbside-to-go, and delivery. It’s been tough, it’s been outside of normal, but it’s also been a time to innovate and think outside the box.
At Midwest Radio of Fargo-Moorhead, we are no different. We’ve closed our doors to the public, adjusted policies on traffic into our building, adjusted the number of employees in the building and moved furniture to provide more open space for social distancing. Over the past two months, I have found, more than anything, just how much I miss the face-to-face conversations with business owners, managers, and employees.
I know our marketing team feels the same way. Technology has brought us together; video chats, text messages, phone calls, and e-mails have served as the only way to connect with clients who have become our friends.
That all changes today, May 1st, 2020 when I can drive to a local restaurant, enter the building, sit down and order a meal and a cold drink. I for one am ecstatic. Not only because I can make the decision to go but because it gives North Dakota businesses the option to make their own decisions. It also gives them an opportunity under a plan to bring back some of their employees, increase their revenue and overcome many of the troubles we have all had to endure over the past two months.
This afternoon I am choosing to go have lunch at a local restaurant. I will be cautious. It will be different but on some level, it will be normal. The restaurant I have chosen is owned by a friend of mine, a client of ours, and someone I know who has done everything in his power to maintain, work with his team, and be positive about the future of his restaurant. I want to support my friend. I want my friend’s business to survive and thrive in the future.
Is there a risk of going out? Absolutely. But I believe that we can properly social distance, wear masks in public, protect ourselves through proper hygiene, and be alert enough to maintain and start growing our local economy once again.
I have great respect for our scientists, doctors, nurses and infectious disease experts and their continued planning to protect Americans. I also believe that America is a land of innovators and entrepreneurs that will stop at nothing to solve a problem. Automotive companies making ventilators, bed manufacturers making masks, companies like 3M massively increasing production of respirator masks and a race for treatment and a vaccine give me hope that there is light at the end of the tunnel.
The first light for local businesses starts today in the state of North Dakota. I encourage you to make the best decision for your family when it comes to going out, but simply being allowed to make that decision is what makes America the country that it is.
Be safe. Be cautious. Be optimistic. Be a good neighbor and find a way to help local businesses in the way that makes the most sense for you.
Here’s to the North Dakota Smart Restart providing a path. Let’s make sure we follow the guidelines and the rules to make it a success for local business and their customers.