FARGO — Restaurants, bars and events in 16 North Dakota counties are being asked to operate at a lower capacity starting Friday, Oct. 16. Cass County is one of them.

The new guidelines advise either 25% of regular capacity or a maximum of 50 people — whichever is lowest. Also according to those guidelines, masks should be required inside.

Mark Bjornstad of Drekker Brewing Company said for those who do require masks, it feels like small business is taking both the responsibility and blame.

"That needs to come from our local leaders and state government," Bjornstad said. "There's been a complete lack of leadership and responsibility."

While Drekker's sales are doing okay, Bjornstad said he is terrified of what 25% capacity will do to local restaurants. He believes the community would not be in this situation if the state imposed more strict rules.

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"I don't understand why the local governments, counties, or state haven't stepped up to do the full mask mandate and all of the full recommendations from the CDC and other health organizations," Bjornstad said.

Grant Larson of Fargo Cass Public Health said this new set of guidelines is not a mandate, so the stipulations for businesses will not be enforced in a legal sense. The new guidelines are strong recommendations.

"The local public health departments do not have the authority or the resources to enforce these guidelines," Larson said. "However, when we're out conducting our routine food inspections, we do offer advice and education."

Customers have been reporting restaurants for operating at a greater capacity. Larson said so far, most of Cass County's restaurants seem to be following the guidelines.