Grand Forks County health officer issues mask, occupancy orders


Anyone in Grand Forks County over the age of 10 years old, with the exception of those who have medical conditions, are engaged in activities such as swimming or showering, or those who are receiving services that require access to the face, among others, will now be required to wear a face covering in all indoor public places in the county, where a person is in the presence of non-household members or where physical distancing cannot be maintained.

That’s the first of two orders from Grand Forks County Health Officer Dr. Joel Walz that were issued Friday. According to the order, it takes effect at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, and is in effect until the emergency declaration, issued by the Grand Forks County Commission, is terminated, or the order is rescinded by proper authorities.

Anyone who violates the order is guilty of a class B misdemeanor, the order states.

The second order is an occupancy limit order. It deals directly with local businesses in Grand Forks County.

The occupancy limit order states that dance floors are not permitted to be used or allowed, businesses conducting a food establishment are required to make patrons or customers to be seated at all times, except when entering or exiting, or to use the restrooms.

Under Walz’s occupancy order, businesses are not allowed any table games of chance, such as blackjack or paddlewheels, nor are they permitted the use of pool tables, dart boards, shuffle boards, non-game of chance video games, or other similar games.

Special gathering events, sport/athletic activities, food establishments for dine-in service and on-site dispensing, sales and selling of alcoholic beverages are limited to 50 percent of the permitted occupancy capacity, with any special event gathering or sport/athletic activity where the number of individuals present is 500 or more are required review by Grand Forks Public Health and approval by the local health officer.

The occupancy order went into effect at 5 p.m. tonight, and is in effect until modified, suspended or revoked by the local health officer.

Anyone who violates the order is guilty of a class B misdemeanor.