MADISON — Gov. Tony Evers directed Department of Health Services (DHS) Secretary-designee Andrea Palm on Tuesday, Oct. 6, to issue Emergency Order #3 limiting public gatherings to no more than 25% of a room or building’s total occupancy. The order and list of exemptions is at attached to this article.

This directive is effective at 8 a.m. on October 8, 2020, and will remain in effect until November 6, 2020, and applies to any gatherings at locations that are open to the public such as stores, restaurants, and other businesses that allow public entry, as well as spaces with ticketed events. A frequently asked questions document is attached to this article.

“We’re in a crisis right now and need to immediately change our behavior to save lives,” said Evers. “We are continuing to experience a surge in cases, and many of our hospitals are overwhelmed, and I believe limiting indoor public gatherings will help slow the spread of this virus. Folks, we need your help and we need all Wisconsinites to work together during this difficult time. The sooner we get control of this virus, the sooner our economy, communities, and state can bounce back.”

Earlier on Tuesday the governor also announced an additional $100 million in support for Wisconsin's small businesses, including lodging, event venues, and others in the tourism industry that are struggling in the wake of the pandemic without additional federal supports.

“The unfortunate reality is this: The disease activity level of COVID-19 in Wisconsin is so high that going to a gathering puts you at very high risk of exposure,” said Palm. “We know gatherings are a key way this virus spreads, so we must act to limit indoor gatherings to stop the spread, reduce illness, and save lives.”

As of Tuesday, the DHS reported an increase of 2,020 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 18 new deaths, and the seven-day average of new daily COVID-19 cases is 2,346 up from 836 one month ago. According to DHS’ Disease Activity dashboard and as of September 30, 45 of Wisconsin counties met the threshold of a very high disease activity level, which means that there are more than 350 cases per 100,000 people in that county. All other counties reported high case activity levels.

That means “Wisconsinites should assume they will likely be exposed to the virus if they leave home and should practice all safety precautions,” the governor's office said.

The governor's office also urged Wisconsinites to take the following steps to stay safe and help stop the spread of COVID-19:

> Stay home whenever possible.

> Wear a mask.

> Wash hands frequently.

> People who have symptoms or who have been exposed to COVID-19 should get tested.

> People should get the flu shot to help reduce the strain on healthcare systems responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

> People should challenge misinformation and talk to friends and families about the importance of the safety precautions.

For up-to-date information about Wisconsin’s COVID-19 response and about COVID-19: DHS COVID-19 webpage, @DHSWI on Facebook and Twitter, and dhs.wi on Instagram.

(Copyright © 2020 APG Media)

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