Wisconsin Governor Issues Emergency Order Limiting Public Gatherings In Light of State’s Designation as the Nation’s COVID-19 Hot Spot

06 October 2020 Coronavirus Resource Center:Back to Business Blog
Authors: Daniel A. Kaplan

Wisconsin Governor, Tony Evers, via the State’s Department of Health Services, issued Emergency Order #3 Tuesday afternoon.  The Order notes that Wisconsin is currently the nation’s COVID-19 hot spot.  According to the CDC, Wisconsin has averaged nearly 2,500 cases per day over the past week, triple the rate of a month earlier.  The Order paints a grim picture of recent developments in Wisconsin with respect to the fight against the spread of COVID-19:

Wisconsin is now a COVID-19 hotspot. It had the third highest number of new cases in the past seven days (17,641 cases), with only California and Texas having more new cases (and 6.8 times and 5 times the population, respectively). Wisconsin is also third in the nation in new cases per 100,000 residents (303 cases per 100,000 residents in the past seven days), with only North Dakota and South Dakota having higher rates. Compared to neighboring states that have statewide mitigation efforts in place, Wisconsin's increase in cases (17,641) over the last 7 days is more than double both Minnesota's increase (7,093 cases) and Michigan's increase (6,878 cases) (New York Times, October 5, 2020).

As a result, the Order, which is to take effect at 8:00A.M. on Thursday, October 8 and run to November 6, 2020, places new limits on public gatherings

Public gatherings means an indoor event, convening, or collection of individuals, whether planned or spontaneous, that is open to the public and brings together people who are not part of the same household in one room.”  The Order expressly excludes office space, manufacturing plants and other facilities that are accessible only to employees or other authorized personnel.

Under the Order, public gatherings are to be limited to no greater than 25% of the total occupancy limits for the room or building as established by municipal ordinance.  And, if there is no occupancy limit established, then the public gathering is to be limited to no more than 10.

The Governor’s Office and the Secretary-designee of the Department of Health also issued Frequently Asked Questions About Emergency Order #3, Limiting Public Gatherings.  The FAQ provides concise answers to a number of common questions, including the following:

  • Why are public gatherings being limited?
  • What does the order prohibit?
  • How long will the order last?
  • Does the order apply to outdoor spaces or events?
  • Does the order apply to businesses?
  • What about indoor ticketed events?
  • Does the order apply to weddings?
  • Does the order apply to funerals?
  • Does the order apply to private residences or homes?

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