Wisconsin governor orders new restrictions for bars, restaurants, shops

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Wisconsin’s bars, restaurants and shops are looking at a new order that limits occupancy to 25% for the next month.

Gov. Tony Evers on Tuesday ordered the state’s Department of Health Services to limit capacity at thousands of businesses statewide.

“We’re in a crisis right now and need to immediately change our behavior to save lives,” Evers said. “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.”

DHS reported on Tuesday that 782 people are in the hospital with the coronavirus. Of them, 209 are in intensive care units.

According to DHS’s numbers, 80% of Wisconsin’s immediately available beds are in use. But there are 134 hospitals across the state. DHS says there are 11,460 beds in all. According to that math, 782 people amounts to less than 7% of the state’s total hospital bed spaces.

Still, Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes took to Twitter with a dire warning.

“Our healthcare workforce is overwhelmed. Our small businesses are still struggling. And far too many of our family, friends, and neighbors are getting sick,” Barnes tweeted. “Please stay home as much as you can, keep distance from people outside your household, wash your hands frequently, and wear a mask if you need to go out.”

Evers’ new capacity limits don’t apply to weddings, funerals, schools, colleges or universities (where Wisconsin’s coronavirus spikes started last month), public transportation, state government offices, grocery stores, or food processing plants.

The rules seem to apply to just bars, restaurants and shops.

State Sen. Duey Stroebel, R-Cedarburg, said on Twitter Tuesday that Evers is once again trying to use power that he doesn’t have.

“Today’s order makes it clear he will continue unilaterally setting policy as long as we let him,” Stroebel said. “It’s past time to come in & rescind his emergency declaration so he begins working with the Legislature.”

The new order takes effect at 8 a.m. Thursday and remains in effect until Friday, Nov. 6. That’s three days after Election Day.

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