Gov. Tony Evers recently directed Department of Health Services (DHS) Secretary-designee Andrea Palm to issue Emergency Order #3 limiting public gatherings to no more than 25 percent of a room or building’s total occupancy.
Sawyer County Circuit Judge John Yackel issued a temporary restraining order blocking enforcement of a statewide order issued last week that limits some indoor gatherings to no more than 25% of the total occupancy limit for a room or building. The judge’s decision stems from a lawsuit filed Tuesday by the Tavern League of Wisconsin.
This directive is effective at 8 a.m. on Oct. 8, 2020, and will remain in effect until Nov. 6, 2020, and applies to any gatherings at locations that are open to the public such as stores, restaurants, and other businesses that allow public entry, as well as spaces with ticketed events.
“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. Folks, we need your help and we need all Wisconsinites to work together during this difficult time. The sooner we get control of this virus, the sooner our economy, communities, and state can bounce back.”
Burnett County Sheriff Tracy Finch came out following the building occupancy order and said her department will continue to focus on crime prevention.
“I again would like to remind everyone that you should take personal responsibility for your health. I am very concerned with the health and well-being of our community members, businesses and visitors,” Finch said in a statement earlier this month.
“Our department has been extremely busy responding to thefts, drug cases, burglaries, mental health issues and many other criminal cases,” Finch stated. “We do not have the time or the staff to respond directly to civil violations of this order. I want to make it clear that I am only speaking for my department.”
On Monday a Wisconsin judge allowed the state’s mask mandate to stand until November.
St. Croix County Circuit Judge R. Michael Waterman said in his ruling that nothing prevents a governor from issuing multiple emergency declarations "when the emergency conditions continue to exist."
Evers said following the ruling, "Today's ruling is a victory in our fight against COVID-19 and our efforts to keep the people of Wisconsin safe and healthy during this unprecedented crisis. As the number of COVID-19 cases in Wisconsin reached 150,000 yesterday, we will continue doing everything we can to prevent the spread of this virus. We ask Wisconsinites to please stay home as much as possible, limit travel and going to public gatherings, and wear a mask whenever out and about."
Evers first declared a public health emergency in March and renewed it in July after the Legislature declined to extend it. The July order mandated the wearing of masks starting in August for anyone aged 5 and up in all enclosed spaces except at home. He issued another order in September that extended the mask mandate until Nov. 21. Violators could be subject to a $200 fine.
Finch also gave options for reporting mask violations.
“Please utilize their reporting system of emailing email@example.com or calling (715)349-2701, if you feel it is necessary,” the sheriff said in a statement. “These avenues will be personally reviewed by Public Health and they may refer violations to the District Attorney if they feel it is prudent. The Burnett County Sheriff’s Office will continue to place priority to emergencies and criminal violations.
Burnett County Public Health and Wisconsin Department of Health are reported 246 cases in Burnett County, the rise in cases in the county is on the same trend as the state with cases continuing to rise throughout the early fall.