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Mass gatherings banned

Gov. Tony Evers has directed Department of Health Services (DHS) secretary-designee Andrea Palm to issue an agency order, prohibiting mass gatherings less than 10 people statewide, to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus).

This order became effective March 17, and will remain in effect for the duration of the public health emergency declared by Executive Order 72, or until a superseding order is issued. Violation or obstruction of this order is punishable

See MASS GATHERINGS BANNED/ Page 4 by imprisonment, fines or both, according to Wis. Stat. § 252.25.

Effective at 5 p.m. that day, all public and private mass gatherings were prohibited in the state. The order makes exceptions for transportation, educational institutions, childcare, hotels, military, law enforcement, food pantries, hospitals, long-term care facilities, grocery stores and convenience stores, utility facilities, job centers and courts.

“Our top priority at this time, is to keep Wisconsinites safe and healthy, by reducing the spread of COVID-19, especially for those who are considered high-risk,” said Evers. “With limited tests available nationwide and continued community spread, we have to take every precaution to protect ourselves, our families and our neighbors.

All bars and restaurants were directed to close, but could offer take-out or delivery options, as long as no sit-down meals were served. The order also includes gatherings at theaters, movie theaters, museums, stadiums, arenas, conference rooms, meeting halls, exhibition centers, taverns, health and fitness centers, recreation centers, licensed pools, and places of worship and religious gatherings.

“I know what this means for our small business owners, and the struggles they and their workers will face in the coming weeks,” said Evers, “but we are committed to working with our federal partners, state officials and stakeholders, to ensure we are doing everything we can to assist during these uncertain times.”

People should follow simple steps to prevent illness and avoid exposure to this virus including frequent and thorough hand washing, with soap and water; covering coughs and sneezes; avoiding touching the face; and staying home when sick.

This is a rapidly evolving situation and the public is encouraged to frequently monitor the DHS website for updates.