Oct. 26 Update: On Friday, Oct. 23, a state appeals court reinstated a temporary injunction preventing enforcement of the Evers administration’s order limiting indoor gatherings to 25 percent of a room’s capacity. Regardless of the back and forth regarding any statewide COVID-19 rules, local governments have the power to issue order that include penalties for noncompliance and other enforcement mechanisms that are more restrictive than statewide rules. This report includes information about local rules, including effective dates and durations or orders and links to the texts of the orders.
Oct. 19 Update: After a hearing this morning, a judge in the case put back in place Gov. Evers’ limits on indoor public gatherings.
As a follow-up to the extension of his mask mandate, Gov. Tony Evers’ administration has issued another COVID-19-related Emergency Order, this one limiting inside public gatherings to no more than 25% of a room or building’s total capacity. The order is effective from Thursday, Oct. 8 at 8 a.m. until Friday, Nov. 6.
Essentially, the order applies to businesses which allow public entry, for example stores, bars, restaurants and ticketed events. Public infrastructure operations, such as construction projects, are exempt from the order. Also exempt are offices spaces, warehouses, storage areas, manufacturing plants and other businesses that are accessible only by employees, authorized personnel or invited guests. The order does not apply to a business’ outdoor space, such as patios or outdoor dining areas. Also exempt from the order are:
- Private residences unless they host an event open to anyone
- Child care settings
- Placements for children in out-of-home care
- 4K-12 schools
- Institutions of higher education
- Health care and public health operations
- Human services operations
- State and local government operations and facilities, including polling locations
- Churches and other places of religious worship (including religious wedding and funerals)
- Political rallies, demonstrations and other speech protected by the First Amendment
- State facilities under the control of the Wisconsin Supreme Court and the Wisconsin Legislature
- Federal facilities under the control of the federal government
- Tribal nation activities within the boundaries of Tribal reservations and federal land.
The order relies on occupancy limits established by local governments. For those spaces which haven’t been rated by local governments, the order places a cap of 10 people on gatherings. Enforcement will also be left to local officials, though many have refused to enforce the mask mandate Evers first issued this summer. Penalties for violations include a civil forfeiture. Local governments may enact local orders that are the same or more restrictive than this order.