Governor Doug Burgum's initial executive order that closed businesses in North Dakota - like gyms, dine-in restaurants and non-essential services - expires on April 20th. But today Burgum says he is extending the closure for an additional ten days.
Burgum says his administration has drawn criticism from all sides in regards to the closures.
"We've heard people say that we haven't gone far enough with restrictions - that's been a loud and often repeated phrase, that we haven't done enough. We've also heard many others saying that we've gone too far, and that it's time to re-open our business and restart our economy. I think I share the sentiment about getting open again, and I'm they're reacting to the fact that our numbers have been low. And our numbers have been low because of the actions that we've taken."
Burgum says re-opening businesses after April 30th will have to be done carefully, and assumes the COVID-19 pandemic has not yet reached its peak. He says the re-opening must be a "smart re-start" to the state's economy, and will follow careful procedures in coordination with other neighboring states.
"This is a multi-stage approach to resuming activity in North Dakota, and it balances the need to safeguard lives and our livelihoods. As we've talked about, this is not lives versus the economy. This is about lives and lives."
Burgum says widespread, rapid testing is needed in order to begin re-opening the state's economy, as well as robust contact tracing of the virus. He also says there needs to be effective containment of the virus, and protections in place for the state's most vulnerable populations. He says the health care system also needs sufficient capacity, and ample supply of personal protective equipment. Burgum says businesses will need to create new standards for operating, and everyone needs to be prepared in the event of a second surge of cases.