Ban on mass gathering forces many to change plans

Published: Mar. 16, 2020 at 10:31 PM CDT
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On Monday, Governor Evers issued a ban on mass gatherings with 50 or more people in the latest restriction as the U.S. fights to stop the spread of COVID-19.

The ban has people in the Chippewa Valley scrambling to change their plans and adjust their routines.

For one Chippewa Falls couple, it meant cancelling their wedding plans.

On March 16, Rayanne Johnson planned to say “I do” with her new husband Derek in a destination wedding on a cruise in Haiti. When the cruise ban went into effect, those plans changed.

“It’s definitely been eye opening seeing something that you've been planning for so long just going away in the blink of an eye,” Johnson says. “I didn’t want to know it was happening.”

After the event ban went into place, Titletown Brewery in Green Bay cancelled their wedding reception with family and friends for the following weekend.

Thankfully, Rayanne and Derek were legally married in a court house in January to avoid extra fees on the cruise, but she says cancelling her plans have still been difficult.

“We just didn't get to do the whole wedding gown, father daughter dance and typical wedding stuff," Johnson says.

Rayanne says after three years of planning, she doesn’t foresee herself planning a new wedding from scratch but says hopefully someday she and Derek can take a cruise to renew their vows.

In addition to weddings, other events that typically draw large crowds like funerals are feeling the impacts of COVID-19.

At Horan Funeral Home in Chippewa Falls, Mike Horan says an average funeral usually draws in 75 to 100 people.

“It is really hard for us to proceed,” Horan says. “We would leave it up to the individual churches and families to decide if they want to go ahead with the funeral or not.”

Horan says many people who attend funerals are older and in the “at risk” population for COVID-19.

He says he has been working closely with the National Funeral Director Association about next steps and has been diligently ensuring sanitation in both the public areas as well as behind the scenes.

Horan says if they were to suspend services it could create extra stress for the families as well as difficulties for the funeral homes.

Other funeral homes like Hulke Family Funeral Home in Eau Claire are working with families to give them options like limiting who can attend or having private services.

At Chippewa Valley Cremation Services & Celebration of Life Center in Altoona, all services have been suspended for now.

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