Deadwood one step closer to reopening

A resolution that would allow businesses to resume operations with social distancing-specific restrictions passed first reading by the Deadwood city commission Monday, with an effective date expected to be announced at next Monday’s commission meeting. Pioneer photo by Jaci Conrad Pearson

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DEADWOOD — The party might be back on soon, but it’s going to look a lot different in Deadwood when the town reopens.

Monday, the Deadwood City Commission passed the first reading of an ordinance that would allow businesses to reopen, although there is not yet a date scheduled for second reading, which, upon commission approval, would immediately allow for the re-openings.

The need for the ordinance, an emergency ordinance to address a public health crisis by implementing certain measures that have deemed necessary to slow the community spread of COVID-19, was explained by Deadwood Legal Counsel Quentin Riggins.

On March 25, the city commission approved an ordinance immediately closing the city’s casinos, bars, rec facilities, among others.

“This particular ordinance would open all of the businesses,” Riggins said. “ … It’s put together based upon the committees that the mayor put together to determine how to safely reopen Deadwood. We’ve had a lot of buy-in from the various businesses to try and accomplish what we need to. It’s anticipated that there may be some changes between first and second reading, with respect to the casinos and whether or not we can put together some additional language that would allow some of the other games to reopen, as well, in addition to slot machines.”

Riggins said the ordinance is set to come into effect immediately upon second reading, due to the emergency rider that’s attached to it.

“So the idea today is to pass first reading, continue to meet with the subcommittee that has been working through the procedure to reopen Deadwood to find a date by which we plan to have second reading of the ordinance and then once it would be passed, it would come into effect and businesses would start to open at that point,” Riggins said.

Deadwood Mayor David Ruth, Jr. thanked the nine members of the task force for taking the time to help fashion what the parameters for reopening will look like, understanding that the community’s businesses are unique.

“They’re not a simple bar or a restaurant,” Ruth said. “They have a lot of different working parts and because of that, this committee has taken a lot of time and effort to try and make parameters that will be safe, that will be inviting, and will provide that Deadwood experience that everyone expects.”

Ruth asked for understanding that as Deadwood and other communities begin to relax restrictions, incidence of confirmed cases will increase on the western side of the state.

“So, we feel that we owe it to our community, both business and residential, to make sure that when people come to town it is a safe environment,” Ruth said.

Ordinance language provided by the Deadwood Gaming Association (DGA) that would help accommodate live table play will be included in the second reading.

“So that everybody understands what that looks like, as well as gives the operators in town the opportunity to view it and buy in with those parameters, for what you what call ‘close quarters contact’ with customers,” Ruth said.

Commissioner Sharon Martinisko asked for clarification that the ordinance would allow for in-restaurant feeding.

Riggins said it would allow inside dining.

“It has to be done in accordance with the governor’s executive order that addresses the spacing that’s required,” he said. “So, in essence, there would need to be six feet parameter between tables if a restaurant were to reopen. It’s set up to be flexible, to give the restaurant owner the ability to see how they would want to reopen and meet those parameters.”

Martinisko then asked what would happen if city officials began to see a number of businesses not complying with the ordinance or a spike in COVID-19 cases.

Riggins said another of the commission’s agenda items for the night addressed the enforcement arm of the procedure for reopening.

The commission also passed first reading of an ordinance amending Deadwood municipal code addressing nuisances.

“That would give the police the ability to any non-compliance with our reopening policy as a public nuisance,” Riggins said, adding that if things started to take a turn for the worse, and number of cases significantly increased to the point where city officials thought it needed to be addressed or if the governor relaxes the parameters of her executive order, the emergency ordinance provides for that.

Ruth said ample time is being taken to prepare for reopening.

“Every operator and every member of the task force wants to ensure that we’re doing it correctly so that we don’t have to reclose again,” he said.

Riggins said that under the current nuisance ordinance, the city has the ability to abate nuisances and public nuisances.

“The issue with that it that procedure is very time-consuming to get a nuisance abated. This speeds up that process, only if the commission were to determine that there exists a public health crisis that would create a nuisance,” he said.

Upon second reading of the nuisance ordinance, ordinance officers will have the ability to issue an immediate citation to businesses or individuals, rather than to allow certain abatement procedures.

“This also does, though, give them the flexibility, as they’re writing these tickets, to discuss what abatement steps need to happen with the property owner, so that you could immediately abate the nuisance and avoid the citation, as well,” Riggins said.

Ruth said city officials are trying their best to determine a date to get the city reopened as quickly as possible.

“The absolute soonest it could be is a week because of state statute for second reading. But as far as a date, that’s where the task force is going to come in,” he said. “And trust me. We have members of the task force that would like it sooner than other members. So we’re just trying to get it out there and make a recommendation to this commission and to this body, so that next Monday people will know when we’re going to open.”

Among other stipulations, the ordinance sets forth that gatherings of 10 more will be restricted per Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which also applies to enclosed retail establishments and casinos, where six-foot spacing parameters will also apply.

“What we’re trying to get through and accomplished by the task force, so everything can reopen,” Ruth. “We’re trying to set all the parameters out there and then it’s up to the individual operators themselves as to how they want to open. I do know that there are some businesses in the community that are only going to phase in, if you will, to give their employees a little more sense of comfort. But I do know that there are some operators that do intend to start with everything.”

A violation of the emergency ordinance to address COVID-19 may be punishable by up to a fine not to exceed $500 and imprisonment not exceeding 30 days.

Deadwood cruiser night Friday

Outlaw Square Director Bobby Rock announced at Monday’s commission meeting that Deadwood will play host to a cruiser night Friday at 5:30 p.m., with two staging areas – the Lower Main Parking Lot and the Broken Boot parking lot. The groups would leave at 6 p.m. and travel “two laps” along Main Street.

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(1) comment

The Great One

Deadwood is gambling, people come to Deadwood to gamble. So, ten people in a Casino? I understand the safety issues. But, no one is going to "gamble" on coming to Deadwood and not be able to play. Regards to table games, if you don't open them, well you may as well stay closed.

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