The Dickinson City Commission approved a moratorium on select city alcohol ordinances in a special meeting Thursday, March 26. The unanimous vote on the resolution allows for businesses to provide curbside, to-go sale of alcohol within Dickinson city limits for a period to run concurrent with Gov. Doug Burgum's order for North Dakota restaurants and bars to close all in-house dining options.
With restaurants shut down — except delivery, pick-up and drive-thru services — and officials emphasizing social distancing in an effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus, concern for how the pandemic would affect Dickinson businesses that sell alcohol was at the forefront of the resolution.
City Administrator Joe Gaa said the resolution came after multiple productive meetings with local bars, restaurants and liquor stores.
“We decided, with the new meeting standards, in lieu of having liquor licensed owners come in, we would have meetings with them over the phone,” Gaa said. “We had three of those meetings on Tuesday afternoon.”
Gaa said that bars and liquor stores were content with the plan to allow unopened bottles and cans to be served at their establishments’ curbside, but restaurant owners expressed concerns with limiting the service to cans or bottles.
“Through consultation with those businesses, we realized that their alcohol or beer sales are done primarily by tap,” Gaa said. “So we discussed if they could use growlers, which was included in the resolution.”
Gaa noted that the resolution was a temporary matter.
“Once restaurants can be reopened, this [resolution] disappears,” he said.
Commissioner Carson Steiner asked questions pertaining to open container laws and concerns with the sealing of growlers.
“My concern is that if the police stop people and it's considered an open container, how do we address that?” Steiner asked.
Police Chief Dustin Dassinger said that they didn’t want to get too complicated with the resolution, and that if the growlers had a sticker or tape demonstrating that the container had not been opened that would suffice.
City Attorney Christina Wenko confirmed that the resolution was modeled after the similar ones passed in Fargo and Minot earlier in the week.