Businesses, indoor public gatherings limited to 25% occupancy under new emergency order

MADISON, Wis. — Gov. Tony Evers has directed Department of Health Services Secretary-designee Andrea Palm to issue an emergency order limiting public gatherings as coronavirus cases continue to spread throughout Wisconsin.

The new emergency order limits public gatherings to no more than 25% of a room or building’s total occupancy. It goes into effect at 8 a.m. on Thursday and will remain in effect until Nov. 6.

“We’re in a crisis right now and need to immediately change our behavior to save lives,”  Evers said. “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. 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.”

According to a news release, the order applies to indoor public spaces including stores, restaurants and other businesses.

The executive order comes in the midst of a major coronavirus spike throughout the state. On Tuesday, state and county health officials confirmed 1,743 new coronavirus cases and 14 new deaths since Monday.

Public health officials said the new statewide emergency order “sets a minimum bar of what must be followed but allows locales to be stricter.” Public Health Madison & Dane County’s orders has stricter requirements than the statewide order, which means those must be followed.

“I applaud today’s action by Governor Evers and strongly caution the legislature to pause before making a knee-jerk, political response to this prudent and necessary step the Governor has taken,” Dane County Executive Joe Parisi said in a statement. “It’s long past due to take the politics out of this pandemic—people are needlessly getting sick and dying because denial and scoring political points have taken precedence over public health and safety.”