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Madison, Dane target bars, restaurants in new order; Tavern League fires back

The Brillion News

MADISON - Public Health Madison & Dane County is issuing an order which limits gatherings and prohibits indoor dining and service at bars, effective as of 8 a.m. Thursday, July 2.

“For the past week, Dane County has seen a sustained, high number of cases. After consultation with our contact tracing team, gatherings and visits to bars and restaurants continue to be implicated in interviews with cases,” said Janel Heinrich, Director of Public Health Madison & Dane County. “We are acting now to immediately curb this increase in cases and protect the health and safety of our community.”

The Tavern League of Wisconsin said the order is illegal and misguided.

“Today’s order by Public Health Madison and Dane County shutting down taverns is in direct conflict with the Wisconsin Supreme Court decision, Wisconsin Legislature vs. Palm,” said Chris Marsicano, President of the Tavern League of Wisconsin. “A local government cannot have more authority than the state Department of Health. The Dane County Order blatantly ignores the Supreme Court decision and should be amended to comply with the Supreme Court decision.”

He said Dane County tavern owners have had their businesses closed or restricted for over 100 days.

“These unlawful orders are causing irreparable financial harm to their small businesses, families and employees while other businesses continue to operate in the county,” Marsicano said.

He said the local health officials are misreading the data.

“With increased testing comes increased cases that should not come as a surprise,” he said.

Marsicano also accused the city and county of ignoring the role protests and downtown street violence may have played in the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

“While county officials are quick to blame the industry, they conveniently ignore the historic protests the city has experienced over the last three weeks in which thousands of people congregated with no regard to social distancing,” he said.

The Tavern League gave no indication whether it plans to challenge the joint city-county health department orders.

These are some of the items that have changed with the order:

  • All indoor gatherings are permitted with 10 individuals or fewer not including employees. Individuals must maintain physical distancing.

  • All outdoor gatherings are permitted with 25 individuals or fewer not including employees. Individuals must maintain physical distancing.

  • At restaurants’ indoor dining capacity reduced to 25 percent of approved seating capacity levels.

  • Bars may provide takeout but no indoor dining.

  • Bars and restaurants are permitted to provide outdoor seating, with physical distancing.

The health agency said gathering in bars in particular is a concern because groups of people mix; bars are often loud spaces that require loud talking to communicate, which can spread infectious droplets farther; alcohol impairs the judgment of patrons; and people often are not able to identify or provide contact information for the people they were in close contact with.


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