MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers on Monday ordered a ban on all gatherings of more than 50 people, a dramatic move in line with federal recommendations and as other states took similar action to stop the spread of the new coronavirus.
Evers tweeted that he was ordering the ban, but said “critical infrastructure and services such as grocery stores, food pantries, childcare centers, pharmacies, and hospitals will be exempt.” The order will force bars and restaurants to limit the number of customers on St. Patrick’s Day on Tuesday.
He didn’t say how long the order would be in effect. Evers planned to provide more details at an afternoon news conference.
“This isn’t a decision I made lightly and we understand this will have an impact on Wisconsin workers, families, businesses and communities, but keeping folks safe and healthy has to be our highest priority,” Evers tweeted.
Wisconsin Tavern League spokesman Scott Stenger said the order would be followed by owners of the 10,000 bars, restaurants and others who have liquor licenses in the state.
“It isn’t something that we’re excited about, but it could be a lot worse,” Stenger said. “If we had to close all of our bars and restaurants in this state, that’s probably the worst case scenario. We hope we can make this work. We’re going to take it seriously. It’s still going to adversely impact our members.”
Evers’ order comes after he last week declared a public health emergency, ordered all public and private K-12 schools to close no later than Wednesday through at least April 6 and recommended gatherings no larger than 250 people.
Many other states and local jurisdictions across the country, including Dane County in Wisconsin, further limited gatherings to no larger than 50 in recent days. Others that have issued similar orders include neighboring Illinois, Ohio, Massachusetts, Washington state, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Sunday recommended that gatherings of 50 people or more should be canceled or postponed throughout the country for the next eight weeks.
On Monday Gov. Tony Evers announced a ban of gatherings of 50 or more people.
Evers is expected to give more information at at 1:30 p.m. press conference.