FARGO — Red River Valley cities along the border should be treated as "one community" when it comes to travel and quarantine restrictions, Gov. Doug Burgum said in his daily briefing on Wednesday, April 8.
After Minnesota was added to the growing list of "hot spots" for the coronavirus on Tuesday, the North Dakota Department of Health issued a 14-day quarantine for North Dakota residents who spend extended time in the neighboring state.
However, Burgum emphasized that in his amended travel order, residents are exempt from quarantining if they are simply going to pick up their prescriptions or groceries in Moorhead and living in Fargo or helping out an elderly family member or friend.
He said a "barrier" between border cities is unwanted.
However, Burgum emphasized again that snowbirds or spring break travelers returning from states like Arizona or Florida, two others on the "hot" list, need to quarantine for 14 days as well as people who spend time in other parts of Minnesota such as Minneapolis.
Neighboring South Dakota and Montana are not on the list as of yet, although Burgum said he expects all 50 states will eventually be on it.
Fargo and other metro mayors have gone further by requesting residents "stay at home". If people are quarantining, the only exemption listed in the order is that they would be allowed to go to see a physician. If a person or a family member in the home comes down with the coronavirus while in quarantine they must report it to the state Department of Health for tracing.
In answers to questions from The Forum and according to amendments in the revised travel order issued Wednesday, here are some clarifications:
Should I travel to Minnesota for a family gathering this Easter or have relatives from there visit my home in North Dakota?
"NO," said Jennifer Skjod, public information officer with the state's Joint Information Center, who put the word "no" in capital letters in an email. Burgum said in his briefing that he realizes traveling traditions for Easter are being disrupted.
Can I visit my lake cabin in Minnesota for a weekend and still have to quarantine or do outdoor recreation activities across the state line?
Yes, residents are encouraged to partake in outdoor activities as long as they keep social distancing of at least six feet, and that includes visiting lake cabins, according to Skjod. Burgum said in his daily briefing that the amended order states people are exempt from the quarantine if crossing state lines to engage in outdoor activities. Exemptions include walking, hiking, running, biking, driving for pleasure, hunting or fishing, as well as visiting public parks or recreation lands as long as people distance from others.
Burgum added he isn't stopping people from other states fishing in the state's 400 lakes, although people "shouldn't be bunching up at bridges or on boat ramps." He said the state's Game and Fish Department would be watching for such problems.
Can I pick up my prescriptions or shop for essentials in the border cities and commute to work?
Yes, the amended order allows people to commute to work between the states and shop for essential supplies such as groceries. Burgum said at his briefing that a person from Fargo who has their prescription filled at Walgreen's in Moorhead can certainly go pick it up. Or if a nurse lives in Moorhead and works at a Fargo hospital, they can commute back and forth for work. There is a long list of essential workers who can commute between states on the Homeland Security website.
Can I have a delivery of food from the grocery store or a restaurant made between the cities?
Can I go shopping for groceries in Fargo and deliver it to an elderly family member in Minnesota?
Trucks will be carrying products between the states during this time. Is this allowed?
Yes. Truckers are among essential workforce exempt from immediate quarantine for 14 days.
Should I attend a birthday party for a family member across state lines?
No. Burgum said "virtual parties" are becoming more common. He said there are many free technology products available for such gatherings. If people aren't into technology, he said they can make a phone call, write a letter or offer a birthday wish on Facebook.
Easter and other Holy Week services are being canceled. How should I react?
Many churches are offering services on TV and online, so people should participate virtually.
What is the penalty for disobeying the order?
Skjod said they don't foresee having law officers stopping people at the border. However, if someone did go to Minneapolis, returned to North Dakota and didn't quarantine, and it was reported by another resident, they could potentially face a Class B misdemeanor, which includes up to 30 days in jail or a maximum fine of $1,500. Local law enforcement is responsible for violations.