MADISON, WI — Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers and state health officials issued a new statewide order Tuesday capping gatherings at indoor public spaces such as stores, bars and restaurants at 25 percent capacity.
Evers directed Department of Health Services Secretary-designee Andrea Palm to issue Emergency Order No. 3 limiting public gatherings to no more than 25 percent of a room or building’s total occupancy.
The order goes into effect at 8 a.m. Thursday and ends Nov. 6. It 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 in a news release. “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.”
Earlier Tuesday, the governor also announced an additional $100 million in support for Wisconsin’s small businesses — including lodging, event venues and others in the tourism industry — which are struggling amid the pandemic without additional federal support.
“The unfortunate reality is this: The disease activity level of COVID-19 in Wisconsin is so high that going to a gathering puts you at very high risk of exposure,” Palm said. “We know gatherings are a key way this virus spreads, so we must act to limit indoor gatherings to stop the spread, reduce illness and save lives.”
On Tuesday, the DHS reported an increase of 2,020 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 18 new deaths. It said the seven-day average of new daily COVID-19 cases is 2,346, up from 836 one month ago. According to DHS’ Disease Activity dashboard and as of Sept. 30, 45 counties met the threshold of having a very high disease activity level, which means that there are more than 350 cases per 100,000 people in that county. All other counties reported high case activity levels. This means Wisconsinites should assume they will likely be exposed to the virus if they leave home and that they should practice all safety precautions, the DHS said.
Wisconsinites are being urged to take the following steps to stay safe and help stop the spread of COVID-19:
Stay home whenever possible.
Wear a mask.
Wash your hands frequently.
If you have symptoms or have been exposed to COVID-19, get tested.
Get the flu shot to help reduce the strain on health care systems responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Challenge misinformation and talk to friends and families about the importance of these safety precautions.
Up-to-date information about Wisconsin’s COVID-19 response is available on the DHS’ COVID-19 webpage.
This article originally appeared on the Across Wisconsin Patch