COVID-19 exposures reported at Eau Claire bars as college students return to town

Health officials stress importance of following health precautions at bars as students come back to Eau Claire
Published: Aug. 21, 2020 at 5:24 PM CDT
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - In recent days, the Eau Claire City-County Health Department has reported more possible exposures to COVID-19, many of them at local bars.

As UW-Eau Claire students return to campus, health officials are reminding people to be extra diligent when they go out.

Several COVID-19 exposures have been reported at Water Street bars which are often frequented by students. For some a return to campus could mean a return to bars however UW-Eau Claire has been communicating safety expectations to students according to public information officer Michael Knuth.

“We know folks are concerned and we have seen stories from other communities where things have not gone wonderfully but I think we have been focused on how we can help our students make sound and right decisions for their own safety,” Knuth says.

Emma Friend and Dana Jurecki just moved into dorms for their freshman year at UW-Eau Claire and hope fellow Blugolds will do their part to keep each other safe.

“The precautions are pretty good but individual behavior is still going to vary between students,” Friend says.

“It is kind of a little scary not knowing where people are going really because you have some people who care about the mask and some people who don’t,” Jurecki says.

Friday, Jeff Robb of the Eau Claire City-County Health Department stressed the importance of following local health orders, especially at bars.

“We are all working on creative ways to help our businesses stay open, keep students in school keep disease spread low however much of the responsibility lies on the individuals,” Robb says.

Robb says bars are required to keep capacity at 50% and bargoers are required to wear masks when not eating or drinking along with maintaining social distancing.

As of Friday, no bars had been cited for violating guidelines set forth by the health department. Robb says when an exposure is reported at a bar, the health department reviews health guidelines with business owners and management.

A public COVID-19 exposure notice is announced by the health department when someone believed to be infected by COVID-19 was at a location and within six feet of others who cannot be identified.

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