Evers Says State Bars, Restaurants Can Stay Open
But must operate at 50 percent of their fire code capacity or 50 people maximum.
Update: At 11:05 p.m. on March 16th, eleven Milwaukee County municipalities issued an Emergency Order to close bars and restaurants in their jurisdictions to in-house patrons. More on the Emergency Order here.
The State of Wisconsin isn’t falling in line with Illinois, Michigan or other states: bars and restaurants here can remain open despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
A directive from Governor Tony Evers goes into effect at midnight banning gatherings of 50 or more people, but does not prohibit the dine-in operations of restaurants. Restaurants and bars are restricted to operate at only 50 percent of their fire code capacity or 50 people, whichever is less.
Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Washington have all explicitly closed bars and restaurants to any business other than takeout. California Governor Gavin Newsom has asked bars, nightclubs and wineries to close.
“All public and private mass gatherings of 50 people or more are prohibited within the state,” said Palm. “We will get through this together.” She said people should expect more disruptions to their life in the coming days.
Evers said the 50-person level is following a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guideline. Local officials will be tasked with enforcing the capacity restrictions.
“Social distancing is possible in a restaurant so long as customers are six feet apart,” said Palm. “At this point we did not think it was necessary to do an outright ban.”
“We will be wanting to see how it goes here,” said Palm. “We are hopeful this is a middle ground, a good first step, to really be clear about we need to be doing as it relates to social distancing.”
Urban Milwaukee is maintaining a list of restaurants offering carryout or delivery options.
Evers Reacts to Call with Trump
Evers said a Monday morning call with President Donald Trump, representatives of the CDC and other governors was informative. “It was good. Robust conversation, not a lot of shouting,” said Evers.
He said it was made clear that states should seek their own supplies, including respirators and other medical supplies, for a quicker response rather than relying on a federal supply chain.
While Evers and Palm fielded questions from the media, one reporter interrupted to announce that Trump had just announced that individuals should avoid gathering in groups of more than 10, in what appears to contradict the CDC guideline. The media relations team quickly ended the hour-long call with more than 40 news outlets.
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