Business leaders react to Gov. Evers’ executive order to limit public gatherings

Published: Oct. 6, 2020 at 9:20 PM CDT
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - As Wisconsin continues to be a hotspot for rising cases of COVID-19, Governor Evers is taking new action to get the pandemic under control.

On Tuesday he announced Executive Order #3 to limit public gatherings to 25% capacity.

The capacity limit applies to indoor public gatherings including restaurants, stores and ticketed events.

Businesses that are exempt include schools, childcare centers, grocery stores, polling places, churches, health care operations, and public infrastructure operations, human services operations, political rallies and state and federal facilities.

Gov. Evers says the move is critical to controlling the spread of the virus.

“The sooner we get the virus under control the sooner we get back to the activities we all enjoy,” Evers says. “We see how one case can turn into 12 cases in the blink of an eye, how one dinner party, one wedding can lead to weeks of recovery and how our economy and state goes backward every time one person or group ignores public health measures.”

Kristine Hillmer, Wisconsin Restaurant Association president and CEO says she is concerned this is just another blow to restaurants already struggling.

“At 25% capacity you cannot cover your bills, you are gonna see mass layoffs and see restaurants closing temporarily or permanently and then there is a ripple effect in that community,” Hillmer says. “There is a path forward without reducing capacity to 25% and we think doing that at the local level is a better way to go than statewide because a lot of parts of the state are not the same.”

Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Dave Minor says while this is devastating for businesses, it is also on the consumer to help keep businesses open.

“Local businesses are just concerned about getting through day to day operations. This is their passion,” Minor says. “We don’t want those people to lose their dreams because people won’t take simple steps to follow wearing a mask, washing hands and keeping social distance from everyone else.”

To help businesses get through this, Governor Evers is also announcing $100 million to be invested in the state’s small businesses.

The order goes into effect on Thursday and will continue through November 6.

The emergency order can be found here.

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