FARGO — “There is no prohibition on interstate travel,” Moorhead Mayor Johnathan Judd said during an economic roundtable Thursday, March 26, in Fargo City Hall.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz’s shelter-in-place order will take effect at 11:59 p.m. on Friday, March 27.
“If you work in North Dakota and you live in Moorhead, you can continue to go to your job in North Dakota,” Judd said.
Teleworking is strongly encouraged, but in jobs where that’s not possible, many of which are being compiled on a list of critical businesses, workers will still be allowed to go to work, he said.
Judd also clarified that there will be no checkpoints or traffic stops to enforce the order.
“We expect that people will use common sense to protect their own health individually, and also of the health of their families and the general public,” he said.
Downtown Moorhead Inc. President and CEO Derrick LaPoint said residents don’t need a letter from their employer to cross the Red River. He said Moorhead businesses wondering if they can be added to the state list of critical businesses should visit www.mn.gov/deed/critical. Emergency loans, designed to bridge the gap to the U.S. Small Business Administration process, are also available on the site.
A 30-day extension for Minnesota sales tax payments has also been implemented, LaPoint said.
On the Fargo side of the Red River, Downtown Community Partnership President and CEO Melissa Brandt urged city residents to support local businesses by using existing gift cards.
“There are $57,000 of unused gift cards out there,” Brandt said.
Cass County Commission Chair Chad Peterson said The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program will be receiving an additional $900 million in federal funding, and many other programs, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families programs, will also be receiving “hundreds of hundreds of millions of dollars” in 2020, most of which will be funneled through the state and administered locally.
Charley Johnson, F-M Convention and Visitors' Bureau President and CEO, said “all but a few” of the area’s hotels remain open, some with reduced room availability, but 800 to 1,000 of their employees have been laid off or furloughed.
Johnson estimated hotel occupancy from March through May will be a low 10% to 15%, as opposed to the “normal” average of 50% to 60%.