Vermillion bars closing early amid COVID-19 case spike

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VERMILLION, South Dakota (KCAU) – It’s the start of the weekend in Vermillion, and Main Street is much quieter than usual.

Popular bars and dives for college students have all closed by 10:00 p.m. Friday evening.

“It’s one of those things that we’ve been talking about as a community, trying to figure out what we could do to try and make a difference with what’s going on right now,” General Manager of Dakota Brick House Josh Scherrer said.

In fact, all restaurant and bar owners agreed to close their establishment at 10 p.m. until Sunday, August 30, to keep their community safe–and each one made that difficult decision voluntarily.

“It’s a small town, you know, and that’s a lot of people’s mainstream revenue is during that time period,” Scherrer said.

Nate Welch, President & CEO of the Vermillion Area Chamber & Development Company, says while not all bar owners were fond of the decision, he takes pride in affected business owners who are putting student safety first.

“For those business owners to risk what that kind of a move does, and to be able to do that for the betterment of our community, is quite frankly, is humbling and exciting to be in a community like that,” Welch said.

Welch also says community support surrounding the decision has also been overwhelming.

“The amount of individuals and businesses that are actually buying gift cards to support them for them taking that challenge on, is really neat,” Welch said.

University of South Dakota senior Braden Sommers says even though he, like many college students, enjoys good times with friends, a little less fun for one weekend isn’t a big deal.

“I think it’s going to really help, kinda, defer all these cases coming out. And, with a lot of kids, obviously, I think there’s almost 500 cases now, I think it’s really going to help from people coming downtown, especially if it’s closing at ten,” Sommers said.

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