Posted on

Evers places a limit on indoor public gatherings


As of Oct. 6, Gov. Tony Evers directed Department of Health Services (DHS) secretary-designee Andrea Palm, to issue Emergency Order 3, limiting public gatherings to no more than 25 percent of a room or building’s total occupancy.

This directive is effective at 8 a.m., Oct. 8, and will remain in effect until Friday, Nov. 6, and applies to any gatherings at locations that are open to the public, such as stores, restaurants and other businesses that allow public entry, as well as spaces with ticketed events.

“We’re in a crisis right now and need to immediately change our behavior to save lives,” said Evers. “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 DHS has reported an increase of 2,020 confirmed cases of COVID-19; 18 new deaths; and the seven-day average of new daily COVID-19 cases is 2,346, up from 836 one month ago.

According to the DHS disease activity dashboard, 45 of Wisconsin counties meet the threshold of a very high disease activity level, which means that there are more than 350 cases per 100,000 people in that county. All other counties reported high case activity levels.

“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 Palm. “We know gatherings are a key way this virus spreads, so we must act to limit indoor gatherings to stop the spread, reduce illness and save lives.”

This means Wisconsinites should assume they will likely be exposed to the virus if they leave home, and should practice all safety precautions. The current death rate for COVID-19 is 1.1 percent of all cases, but the death risk increases with age.

Places that are not open to the public include office spaces, manufacturing plants and other facilities, invitation-only events, and private residences. However, a residence is considered open to the public if an event is held and gathering are limited to 10 people.

Businesses exempt from the order, include childcare settings; group homes; foster homes; 4K-12 schools; colleges; healthcare facilities; human service operations; public infrastructure operations; state and local government operations; churches; state and federal facilities; and political rallies, deomonstrations and other speech protected by the First Amendment.

The order is enforceable by Wisconsin State Statute 252.2, where any person who willfully violates, or obstructs the execution of any state statute, or rule, county, city or village ordinance, or departmental order under this chapter and relating to the public health, for which no other penalty is prescribed, shall be imprisoned for not more than 30 days, or fined not more than $500, or both.

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