The Siren Village Board met with local businesses owners Monday morning to discuss re-opening the village.
Village President Dave Alden recently stated he wants the village to open up its bars and restaurants to the public to keep those businesses open as tourism season begins later this month.
Alden said that the village has somewhere between 34 and 40 businesses in Siren and a number of them are closed due to COVID-19 and the states safer-at-home order.
Siren Chief of Police Chris Sybers told the board last week that federal and state funding could be pulled from businesses that disobey the safer-at-home order set to expire May 26.
Sybers said that liquor licenses could be taken away by the state.
Village Trustee Rick Engstrom said of the safer at home order that the state of Wisconsin cannot be painted with a broad brush. He said shutting down the entire state until after Memorial Day is “like punishing the tourism industry.”
He added that it feels like this region of the state is being punished. Engstrom said last week at the monthly board meeting he was disappointed he can go to the grocery store, “but can’t get a haircut.”
Alden agreed and suggested bars and restaurants to open by May 22, the Friday of Memorial Day weekend. He added the tourist season in Siren, and is true of all Burnett County, is from Memorial Day to Labor.
“That’s a target date,” Alden said of May 22. He continued, after a conversation with Siren Police, that the village cannot force businesses to open.
“No longer do I want to see you all, my friends, go broke,” Alden said via Zoom meeting and in the village hall with a number of business owners.
The business owners were asked about opening before the safer-at-home end date of May 26. A couple said they were interested in opening, but others had more questions.
“If I open up early and someone gets COVID, am I liable?” one business owner asked.
A number said they would think about the decision to open their business but would need to discuss and think about the decision.
The board discussed giving out signs to Siren businesses to display.
Alden concluded the meeting saying he would deliver the signs.
“I’ll even have the first beer or breakfast,” Alden said.