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5 things to know today: Curfew lifted, Contact tracing, Ice-house protest, In-person learning, Revitalization plan

A rundown of some of the best stories found on Inforum.

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Kevin Mertz from The Tap Guys prepared the bar area at Herd & Horns Sports Bar and Grill on April 29 as the north Fargo restaurant geared up to open May 1, under new coronavirus guidelines. Bar stools were spaced farther apart to separate patrons. Forum file photo

1. Gov. Burgum lifts curfew on North Dakota bars, restaurants but occupancy limit remains

North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum has ended a mandatory curfew on bars and restaurants, citing a decrease in active COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in the state.

The announcement, which came late Monday night, Dec. 21, means food and drink establishments will no longer have to close for on-site service from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. starting on Tuesday.

However, bars and restaurants must continue to limit the customers they serve to 50% of normal occupancy while keeping six feet of distance between tables. Dance floors must remain closed, and service can only be provided to those seated.

Read more from Forum News Service's Jeremy Turley

2. North Dakota to resume contact tracing as COVID-19 case count shrinks


Contact tracers
Employees doing contact tracing for people with COVID-19 and others who may have been exposed to them are shown recently at Fargo Cass Public Health in Fargo. Special to The Forum

With new COVID-19 infections on the decline, North Dakota health officials plan to resume full contact tracing operations this week.

The return of the foundational disease control strategy comes more than two months after the state became overwhelmed by mounting cases of the virus and abandoned most contact tracing efforts. The state Department of Health and local public health units in Fargo and Grand Forks have since been asking residents who test positive for COVID-19 to inform their own close contacts of the diagnosis.

The rate of new cases of the virus in North Dakota has dropped significantly since a peak in mid-November, making the load for contact tracers "more manageable," said state field epidemiologist Brenton Nesemeier. The Fargo health official said he expects the state to finalize a plan to reboot operations in the next few days.

Read more

3. East Grand Forks businesses plan a very Minnesota protest: In ice-fishing houses

State Sen. Mark Johnson, R-East Grand Forks, left, Representative Deb Kiel, R-Crookston, Justin LaRocque, East Grand Forks Mayor Steve Gander and City Council President Mark Olstad discuss Gov. Tim Walz's executive order in a tent set up in front of the Spud Jr. Adam Kurtz / Forum News Service

A protest is set to happen in East Grand Forks on Jan. 9, but people likely won't take to the streets, they will sit in ice-fishing houses.


Justin LaRocque, owner of the Spud Jr. in downtown East Grand Forks, is organizing the event and made the announcement on his business’ social media page on Dec. 19. He is asking people to pay a $40 fee to set up an ice house or similar structure on Third Street Northwest, which runs alongside his shop, to protest Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz’s recent extension of COVID-19 orders that include the shutdown of hospitality businesses until Jan. 11. The funds will be split between the owners of the Boardwalk Bar and Gill and Joe’s Diner , which both reopened in defiance of the state order.

Read more from Forum News Service's Adam Kurtz

4. Fargo K-12 headed for more in-person instruction next semester

Screenshot of Fargo Public Schools COVID-19 Instructional Plan Committee on Monday, Dec. 21.png
Screenshot of Fargo Public Schools COVID-19 Instructional Plan Committee meeting on Monday, Dec. 21.

All of the COVID-19 guidance and data from doctors and epidemiologists that Fargo Public Schools is receiving points to all students returning to more in-person classes starting on Tuesday, Jan. 19.

The unanimous decision was made Monday, Dec. 21, by the Fargo Public Schools COVID-19 Instructional Plan Committee.

Only one sticking point remains: Will high school students return to four or five days a week? The decision on how many days a week students will attend will be made on Monday, Jan. 11.

Read more from the Forum's C.S. Hagen


5. Downtown Moorhead revitalization plan calls for more housing, walkability

Center Avenue is the focal point of a downtown revitalization effort that will also call for renovations to the Moorhead Center Mall. David Samson / The Forum

An in-depth plan to revitalize downtown Moorhead unveiled this month designates Center Avenue as the focal point of the effort to transform the city center.

The suggestions, drawn from what one consultant called "unprecedented participation" by city residents, include adding more housing, making streets more walkable and major renovations of the Moorhead Center Mall and surrounding property.

Read more from The Forum's Barry Amundson

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