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UPDATED | Wisc. mass gatherings prohibited: How it impacts your business

March 17, 2020

Governor Tony Evers announced this afternoon that effective 5 p.m. today, March 17, 2020, an updated order will go into effect that further restricts gatherings. Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS), Secretary-designee Andrea Palm, signed off on an order prohibiting gatherings of 10 people or more in a further effort to slow the community spread of the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19). The order will continue as long as Governor Evers’ public health emergency remains in effect.

The order prohibits all public and private “mass gatherings” within Wisconsin. “Mass gathering” is defined as “any planned or spontaneous, public or private event or convening that will bring together or is likely to bring together 10 or more people in a single room or single or confined or enclosed space at the same time.”

The order includes, but is not limited to, restrictions on gatherings at:

  • Public or private schools
  • Theaters
  • Museums
  • Stadiums and arenas
  • Conference rooms
  • Meeting halls
  • Taverns
  • Health and fitness centers
  • Places of worship

Restaurants and bars are required to close to the public; however, they may remain open for take-out or delivery service only. Employees must maintain a six foot distance from customers during food pick up. 

The revised order only lists 12 exemptions, some with conditions that must be met to be considered exempt, presumably to allow for the continuity of business. Commercial and non-profit office spaces, manufacturing, processing, distribution and production facilities, job centers, and child care centers are among the businesses that are exempt from the order. Individuals and entities running commercial and non-profit office spaces are advised to implement social distancing, including teleworking, “as much as practicable.”

If you gather with less than 10 people, the following two conditions must both be met in order to comply:

  1. Preserve social distancing of six feet between people
  2. Follow all other public health recommendations issued by the DHS and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Violation or obstruction of the order is punishable by imprisonment, fines or both.

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