Burgum waives waiting period for unemployment benefits, extends business closures by two weeks

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Gov. Doug Burgum today signed an executive order waiving the mandatory one-week waiting period for unemployment benefits as claims continue to increase in North Dakota during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Waiving the one-week waiting period doesn’t increase the amount of money an individual will be eligible to receive, but it does help to get benefit payments into the hands of claimants sooner,” Burgum said. “This is critical to helping out-of-work North Dakotans who are struggling to make ends meet during the COVID-19 crisis. Using a whole-of-government approach, we continue to seek out ways to provide relief to our citizens during this pandemic.”

North Dakota saw an additional 2,574 unemployment claims filed Tuesday, bringing the total for March 16-31 to 27,241 claims – more than were filed during all of 2019. Burgum noted that by waiving the mandatory waiting week, the state will be reimbursed by the federal government for that first week of benefits, which could amount to an estimated $10 million to $20 million.

The waiting week waiver applies to all individuals filing claims with a week ending date of March 14 and going forward through the duration of the state emergency. No action is necessary by the individual who has a claim. Those who have served a waiting week for the week ending March 14 to the present time will have their waiting week paid to them automatically. The programming associated with the waiver should be completed this week, and payment of these weeks should be made next week.

Burgum also announced that existing business closures mandated by executive order will be extended by two weeks, from April 6 to April 20, to further slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. An announcement will be made by April 15 on whether closures will be extended beyond April 20. Affected businesses are listed in the amended executive order here. The extension to April 20 also applies to restrictions on access to state facilities, including the Capitol.

The North Dakota Department of Health today confirmed 21 additional cases of COVID-19, bringing the state’s total to 147 confirmed cases. Twenty-six individuals have been hospitalized, 39 have recovered, and three people have died. A total of 4,627 tests have been completed.

For more information on the state’s COVID-19 response, visit www.health.nd.gov/coronavirus or www.ndresponse.gov.

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