Jeramey Jannene

Tavern League Wants May 1 Reopening

Lobbying group wants Evers to allow bars and restaurants to open then, with restrictions.

By - Apr 20th, 2020 01:36 pm
Customers sit at a bar. File photo by Joey Grihalva.

Customers sit at a bar. File photo by Joey Grihalva.

The Tavern League of Wisconsin wants Governor Tony Evers to allow bars and restaurants to open, with restrictions, starting May 1st.

The request comes after Evers announced last week an extension of the “Safer at Home” order through May 26th and a plan to reopen the state alongside six other states.

“On May 26th, when the current Stay at Home Order ends, the challenges facing Wisconsin in fighting the coronavirus will essentially be the same as they are today, with no vaccine available,” said Tavern League president Chris Marsicano in a statement.

The group’s proposal calls for all employees to wear masks, the on-premise capacity to be cut 50 percent, paper menus to be eliminated, no salad bars, buffets or shared condiments and a distance of six feet between tables. Groups would be capped at six.

“Let’s work together to reopen Wisconsin’s taverns, restaurants and supper clubs while taking the important steps to protect the safety of employees and customers,” said Marsicano.

Under the existing “Safer at Home” order bars and restaurants are allowed to offer carryout and delivery, but state law prevents alcohol from being delivered or sold to-go outside of its original packaging. The order has effectively shuttered bars that don’t offer food or sell factory-sealed bottles and cans of alcohol.

Marsicano is concerned that without action many establishments will be forced out of business. “According to experts, a vaccine will not be widely available for 12 to 18 months. Wisconsinites cannot live under a Stay at Home Order for the next 12 to 18 months,” he said.

In extending the “Safer at Home” order, the state did relax some guidelines including allowing people to golf with restrictions and permitting curbside library service. Evers said the order could be ended when testing capacity increases, contact tracing capabilities are expanded, sufficient personal protective equipment (PPE) is available and the case rate drops.

But even if Evers grants the Tavern League’s request, another issue looms. Will customers want to dine inside a restaurant or belly up to the bar?

One bar and restaurant owner, Dan Zierath, thinks the answer is yes. He announced his intent to open Jackson’s Blue Ribbon Pub in Wauwatosa on May 1st in defiance of the state order. His own family and an attorney oppose the decision.

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