COVID (use this one)

MADISON — With Wisconsin becoming a hotspot for COVID-19, Gov. Tony Evers announced Tuesday he is directing the Department of Health Services to issue a statewide order that would limit public gatherings to no more than 25%.

The directive is effective beginning at 8 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 8, and will remain in effect until Friday, Nov. 6. It will apply to any gathering locations open to the public including stores, restaurants and other businesses that allow public entry, as well as spaces with ticketed events.

Exemptions include: child care settings; 4K-12 schools; institutions for higher education; health care and public health options; long-term care facilities; public infrastructure operations; state and local government operations and facilities including polling locations; churches and other places of religious worship; political rallies, demonstrations and other speech protected by the First Amendment; state facilities under the control of the Wisconsin Supreme Court and Wisconsin Legislature; and federal facilities under the control of the federal government.

"During the first three months of the pandemic (March-May), when Wisconsin's mass gathering bans and Safer at Home orders were in place, Wisconsin experienced a total of 20,000 cases of COVID-19," the order says. "However, after the Legislature sued to end Safer at Home, which the Wisconsin Supreme Court ended on May 13, 2020, the spread of the virus rapidly accelerated. Wisconsin's next 20,000 cases occurred over six weeks and the subsequent 20,000 occurred in only three weeks."

Evers also announced on Tuesday that an additional $100 million in support will be provided for the state's small businesses including lodging, event venues and for others in the tourism industry.

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