Evers orders ban on gatherings of 10 or more; bans eating at restaurants and bars

Published: Mar. 17, 2020 at 2:01 PM CDT
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Gov. Tony Evers has ordered a ban on mass gatherings of 10 people or more as state health officials continue to battle the spread of coronavirus in Wisconsin.

“Our top priority at this time is to keep Wisconsinites safe and healthy by reducing the spread of COVID-19, especially for those who are considered high-risk,” Evers said in a statement.

The Governor’s Office has also ordered the closure of indoor eating at bars and restaurants in the state. That order will go into effect at 5 p.m. Tuesday.

“I know what this means for our small business owners and the struggles they and their workers will face in the coming weeks, but we are committed to working with our federal partners, state officials, and stakeholders to ensure we are doing everything we can to assist during these uncertain times,” Evers said.

Evers also extended the closure of all public and private K-12 schools indefinitely and called on the Legislature to waive a one-week waiting period to receive unemployment compensation insurance. Evers said he would be talking with legislative leaders on Wednesday about an aid package


The Wisconsin Department of Health Services announced Tuesday that the number of positive cases of COVID-19 has reached 72.

Nineteen people in Dane County have been diagnosed with COVID-19, the agency's numbers show.

Public Health Madison and Dane County warned residents that several of those new cases of COVID-19 indicate that there is now "community spread" of the virus.

"We have reached the level where community spread of COVID-19 is happening,” says Janel Heinrich, Director of Public Health Madison & Dane County.

DHS noted that in addition to Dane Co., health officials have identified community spread in Milwaukee and Kenosha Counties.

SO far, more than 1,000 people have tested negative.


While the Governor's ban on double-digit crowds covers a large swath of public activities and businesses, his office does note it allow for several exceptions, including for:

  • Transportation
  • Educational institutions
  • Child care
  • Hotels
  • Military
  • Law enforcement
  • Food pantries
  • Hospitals
  • Long-term care facilities
  • Restaurant and bars (for take-out and delivery only)
  • Grocery stores
  • Convenience stores
  • Utility facilities
  • Job centers
  • Courts

See the full list of exemptions


A symptom of the coronavirus is respiratory struggles that leads some patients to needing assistance breathing with a ventilator.

When asked by a journalist how many ventilators the state has, state officials said they are working to gather that information. They are also still working to figure out the total number of available hospital beds Wisconsin has.