Deadwood commission closes casinos, bars and restaurants

The Deadwood City Commission Wednesday approved an emergency resolution and ordinance forcing the 5 p.m. closure of casinos and on-site consumption at bars and restaurants. Pioneer photo by Jaci Conrad Pearson

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DEADWOOD — Deadwood’s city commissioners Wednesday approved an emergency resolution and ordinance closing the city’s casinos, and bars. 

At 5 p.m., only hours after the noon meeting was called to order, those businesses were closed. Restaurants are also on the list of businesses forced to close; however, they may still operate to provide carry out, delivery, and curbside service.

The passage of the emergency resolution was to address the public health crisis, driven by the threat of COVID-19.

The decision to shutter the businesses was not taken lightly, Mayor David Ruth, Jr., said.

This is something that we take very seriously,” Ruth said.

Deadwood was the first community in the Northern Hills to force businesses to close, although some of the community’s casinos and bars had already closed voluntarily.

Rapid City, late last week, approved the first reading of an ordinance to force closures. Deadwood’s resolution allowed for the more expedient closings.

The resolution states that effective at 5 p.m. Wednesday, all restaurants, coffee shops, bars, breweries, distilleries, wineries, clubs, cafes, and other similar places of public accommodation offering food and beverages for on-site consumption, including any alcohol licensees with on-sale privileges, are closed to on-site/on-sale patrons. These businesses may continue to operate by providing take-out, delivery, curbside service, and drive-through service.

The resolution further states that effective at 5 p.m. Wednesday, all casinos, poker rooms, gaming, recreational facilities, public pools, libraries, health clubs, athletic facilities, bingo halls, skating rings, miniature golf and theaters, including music or entertainment venues are directed to close and cease operations. Casinos may remain open for seven days only to allow patrons to cash in winnings, but no additional gaming will be permitted during this time.

Also closed were hookah lounges, cigar bars, vaping lounges and similar businesses for on-site consumption. These businesses may continue to offer products for sale for off-site consumption.

Businesses that offer massage, hair, nail, tattoo, or similar services, including home-based businesses, were also directed to close and cease operations.

The ordinance outlining the same closures goes into effect at 5 p.m. Monday. Any violation of the ordinance is Class 2 misdemeanor, punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $500 fine. 

As to how long the ordinance will be in effect, Ruth said the resolution and ordinance both state the commission will look at the matter at each meeting.

“If, at any point in time, it is deemed that conditions have drastically improved between meetings, we have no problem calling a special meeting and lifting the restrictions from the resolution or the ordinance,” Ruth said.

“The sooner that we address the issue, the sooner we’ll get back to normal and maybe we can save our summer, here in Deadwood,” said Commissioner Gary Todd.

Ruth said that following the release of a letter he wrote to the business owners, he saw “sweeping support from the community, both residential and business, and I do applaud the gaming industry for stepping forward and really convincing all of the partners to do this collectively and together.”

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