Gov. Evers Limits Indoor Capacity in Wisconsin, Set to Use $100 Million to Help Small Businesses

No more than 25% the total capacity of an indoor public space is allowed beginning Thursday until November 6th. 

MADISON, Wis.- Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers announced Tuesday he is dialing back the opening of the state, issuing his third emergency order to limit indoor building capacity to 25%, effective Thursday.

While ramping up restrictions the Governor also announced $100 million in additional funding to support the state’s small businesses.

No more than 25% the total capacity of an indoor public space is allowed beginning Thursday until November 6th.

This comes as 2,020 new cases were confirmed just on Tuesday. According to Governor Tony Evers, healthcare workers from across the state have written to him urging for more action to be taken.

State health officials say many healthcare systems in the state are already overwhelmed with cases, or dangerously close with the recent spikes.

“We have seen rise in cases to the point that the systems that we took the time to build over the summer,” said Andrea Palm, Secretary-Designee with the Wisconsin DHS. “We’ve gotten to a place where we’re having trouble keeping up.”

Workers in health settings, correctional facilities, long-term care and more are struggling, Palm said.

“It’s impacting our nurses and healthcare workers. If you don’t have enough doctors and nurses who are healthy and well and show up to work it doesn’t matter whether you have COVID or a heart attack — you need that healthcare provider to provide that care for you,” she said.

Grocery stores, healthcare facilities, and schools and childcare are among those exempt from the order.

While officials are asking people voluntarily comply and local law enforcement focuses on educating first, they can institute a fine of up to $500 if that’s not enough.

Previously, Gov. Evers’s safer-at-home order — which featured a similar cap on indoor capacity — was shut down in May by the Wisconsin Supreme Court, following a lawsuit by the Republican-led senate.

The statewide mask mandate, ordered by Evers in August, is set to face similar opposition. On Tuesday a judge in northwestern Wisconsin has promised a quick decision on a challenge, and the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty has filed a lawsuit seeking to strike down the mandate.

“At the end of the day, doing orders and having them challenged in court maybe makes for great theater,” Evers said in response in a media briefing Tuesday, “but it frankly does nothing in making sure people are safer in the state of Wisconsin.”

Meanwhile, the Governor also announced Wednesday that $100 million will be distributed to the state’s small businesses.

Evers said over $50 million in that will go to grants to over 10,000 small businesses, $20 million to the state’s lodging industry, $15 million to live music and performance venues, and other funds to theater and cultural venues.

“Wisconsin small businesses have been unbelievably creative adapting to challenges of the pandemic but they are stretched to the limit,” the Governor said. “These funds will provide critical support but in the meantime we need everyone to change their behavior and work together so we can get back to some bit of normal.”

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