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Wisconsin limits indoor mass gatherings

Published: Oct. 6, 2020 at 1:41 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 6, 2020 at 2:19 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Declaring that Wisconsin has hit a crisis point and people “need to immediately change our behavior to save lives,” Gov. Tony Evers ordered a cap on the number of people who are allowed at indoor locations across the state.

In a statement Tuesday, Evers announced he ordered the Department of Health Services to issue Executive Order #3. Under the directive, public gatherings are limited to no more than 25 percent of a room or building’s total capacity.

“We are continuing to experience a surge in cases and many of our hospitals are overwhelmed, and I believe limiting indoor public gatherings will help slow the spread of this virus,” the governor said.

The new order goes into effect at 8 a.m. on Thursday, October 8, and is set to remain in effect until Friday, November 6. According to the governor’s office, it applies to any gathering at most locations that is open to public. Examples it cited include:

  • Retail stores
  • Restaurants
  • Businesses that allow public entry
  • Ticketed events.

“The unfortunate reality is this: the disease activity level of COVID-19 in Wisconsin is so high that going to a gathering puts you at very high risk of exposure,” said DHS Secretary-designee Andrea Palm. She contended public gatherings are a “key way” for coronavirus to spread, so this move will help stop the spread of the illness and save lives.

As the governor was explaining his order during a Tuesday news conference, Palm’s agency released new numbers showing the state once again reported more than 2,000 new cases in a single day and the number of new deaths reported jumped to 18.

Forty-five of the state’s counties are reporting more than 350 cases per 100,000 people, putting them in the very high activity level, DHS stated. The rest of the counties are in the high activity category.

“Folks, we need your help and we need all Wisconsinites to work together during this difficult time. The sooner we get control of this virus, the sooner our economy, communities, and state can bounce back,” Evers added.

The order does contain some exceptions. Those exceptions include:

  • Churches and other places of religious worship,
  • Child care facilities,
  • Schools and universities,
  • Health care and public health operations,
  • Long term care facilities, and;
  • Public infrastructure operations, such as food production and distribution, airports, utilities.

A full list of exceptions can be found written into the order.

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