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North Dakota Blue Law / Sunday Opening Law

By | Last Modified: November 13, 2019

North Dakota’s Blue Law was a restrictive retail ordinance that limited shopping behavior on Sundays. The law was active upon North Dakota’s admittance as a state until its retraction in August 2019.

The original ordinance banned most businesses from operating at any time on any given Sunday, having to remain closed from midnight Sunday until midnight Monday. There was no clear detailing of which businesses, if any, were exempt.

1967 witnessed the first big change to the law, partially in response to controversy in the aftermath of the March 1966 Blizzard, where businesses were skirting the law to operate on the Sunday following the winter storm, having been forced closed for several days. The changes better defined which businesses were exempt from the law, which included restaurants, pharmacies, hotels, hospitals, telephone and transportation services, ice manufacturing, tourist attractions, and public performances.

Grocery stores were added to the exemption list in 1985.

In February 1991, the state legislation approved to lessen the restrictions of the Sunday opening law, also known as a blue law, allowing most businesses to operate on Sundays, but no earlier than Noon.


  1. Jacque Kreusch

    December 9, 2012 at 8:00 pm

    This law is quite rediculous and even offensive to me personally. I am Seventh Day Adventist and I do not see stores and the like closing for MY religious beliefs (We observe the Sabbath from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday). The way I look at it………everyone is free to choose his or her religion and the extent to which they choose to observe it. And since the LAW says most places are not allowed to operate during certain hours, it seems to me they are taking away some of our religious rights (or the right NOT to observe beliefs and be able to shop)!!!!!!

  2. Laura

    April 14, 2013 at 9:16 pm

    Observing the Sabath, is not religous repression. We the people of the United States of America, were founded on the belief of Our Father in Heaven and Jesus, His son dying for our sins, the least we can do is Honor Him by following his words and observing His day of rest. It could have been a Friday that we rested
    , but I’m sure you would have complained about that also. But the beauty of it is, is that you are free to complain, and we are all entitled to our own opinion.
    I am quite sure, a new car is not a necessity. May God bless and keep you safe.

    have.complained.thatthat too.

    • Lynne

      February 6, 2017 at 7:51 pm

      This law goes completely against the separation of church and state and should be thrown out!

    • Sarah

      February 6, 2017 at 8:36 pm

      You might want to brush up on your history.
      “The government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion.”
      —John Adams

    • Lee

      February 7, 2017 at 7:26 am

      No, we weren’t. They intended there to be a separation of church and state. America was NEVER supposed to have a state religion. You people just feel the need to impose your delusions on everybody.

  3. Dennis

    April 18, 2014 at 2:57 pm

    As if we’re doing God a favor. lol.
    Sometimes cynicism is the only way to truth.

  4. Ryan

    May 17, 2015 at 10:29 am

    I don’t understand the problem with getting groceries……on a Sunday……at 4 in the morning.

  5. Sue

    May 3, 2016 at 11:52 pm

    I used to live in California. Before I moved here, I met a hairstylist who told me her grandma lived in Dickinson. Her grandma was Jewish. She’s probably the only Jewish person in that town. I don’t know how anyone other than white Christians can live here in North Dakota, without lots of problems. The “Blue Law” is unconstitutional, because it presumes everyone in the state is non-Seventh Day Adventist Christian, and it has the expectation that all citizens must conform to the customs pertaining to Christians. That violates Separation of Church and State. I can understand Saudi Arabia demanding that businesses close five times a day for Muslim prayers, but North Dakota isn’t Saudi Arabia. Religious customs have no business in laws that affect every citizen of the state.

    I say this as a fairly conservative (I thought) Roman Catholic.

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