Gov. Evers Shocks Bar, Restaurant Owners with Sudden Statewide Closure

Owners given just three hours notice, after being told they could close Wednesday.

SUPERIOR, Wis.- Wisconsin business owners had just three hours to get ready for a 5 p.m. hard shutdown of bars and restaurants ordered from the very top in Madison.

“We all thought it was kind of a short notice, we all probably should’ve got a 24 hours notice,” said Superior Flame Nightclub owner Alvin Berg. “We’re gonna comply and we know it’s for the greater good of everybody.”

This is unlike Minnesota, which had a day to prepare.

“It’s definitely something that I don’t think you can ever be prepared for, we’re very adaptive in what we do and this is something, completely something that we never ever expected before,” said restaurateur and Superior City Councilor, Keith Kern.

Kern, also the President of the Tavern League of Wisconsin, said the order was a curveball. He said the Tavern League and State Lobbyists agreed to start the closure at 5 p.m. on Wednesday.

But just half an hour later, the Governor ordered the closure to start at 5 the same day, one of the busiest days of the year for these businesses.

“Obviously it’s St. Patty’s Day, we have a lot of people who have a lot of money on the line,” Kern said, “It’s just a bad situation for all of us. It’s a bad situation for the whole entire world, our country, our city. But we have to do what we need to do to control the spread of this moving forward.”

Patrons at Thirsty Pagan Brewing raised their glass for the last time at 5 p.m., and there’s no knowing when they’ll be back again.

“An indefinite foreclosure really kind of gets at you, it’d be nice to have some definition, we understand that you can’t really put a number out there,” said owner Steve Knauss. “Cause you put a number out there, all of a sudden everybody goes ‘hey, wait a second, you said this date.”

The extremely short notice put employees out of work. And for Berg, there’s no plans to help with income yet.

“It happened so quick we haven’t even had a chance to talk about it,” he said.

“It is kinda difficult if you’ve got no income coming in to pay, you still have to pay bills and heating and property taxes and all that stuff too.”

At the Thirsty Pagan, Knauss said he’s working to keep all of his 35 employees working on either takeout and delivery, or smaller projects around the building.

But he knows that isn’t close to the tips they’re used to getting.

“It’s gonna be work, but it’s not gonna be the type of work that they need,” Knauss said. “Everything helps, but we’re kind of in a tight spot so we do what we can.”

But he’s still lending a hand to all Superior employees affected. They get a discount on food and beverage when they present their check at Thirsty Pagan.

“I’ll tell you what, stick together. Don’t stop ordering the food, don’t stop going to get groceries don’t stop being a part of the community,” said Knauss.

As for Berg, he is looking optimistically at the uncertain future.

“I think it;s only gonna go up, get better from here I think,” he said. “I think this is just a really low point not just for us but for the whole United States when something like this happens.”

There are consequences for not complying with Governor Evers’s order, it could result to up to 30 days imprisonment, and a fine of up to $500. There will also be enforcement to prevent local gatherings of 10 people or more.

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