Leaders of one Wisconsin city pass resolution to reopen businesses despite stay-at-home

(Source: WEAU)
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RICE LAKE, Wis. (WMTV) -- Despite the state-wide 'Safer at Home' order, city leaders in one community in western Wisconsin have just barely passed a law that would allow businesses to reopen well before state law allows them to.

On Tuesday night, the Common Council of Rice Lake, in relatively rural Barron County, voted 4-4 on a resolution that allows the "limited reopening of Rice Lake businesses and local government offices," NBC15 sister station WEAU reports.

The mayor of the 8,400-person community had to make the deciding vote, in favor of the resolution. That was no surprise to attendees of Tuesday's vote because the mayor, Michael Diercks, had in fact requested the vote on the resolution, according to WEAU.

Supporters of the resolution say the state-wide 'Safer at Home' order should not apply to low-density communities that have not been hit by COVID-19 as hard as heavily urban areas like Madison or Milwaukee. They say state law - or, if not that, local law - should make exceptions, so that those communities can reopen in pace with the coronavirus.

According to the Wisconsin DHS on Wednesday, Barron County has just four confirmed cases of coronavirus, with no deaths and 724 tests that have come back negative. City leaders say as of the vote, there are no current cases of the coroanvirus in Rice Lake.

Meanwhile, the extended stay-at-home order is slowly allowing the entire state of Wisconsin to reopen. Just this week, dog groomers, some repair shops and several other non-essential businesses were allowed to open their doors. The entire stay-at-home order is set to expire May 26.

According to the resolution passed Tuesday, Rice Lake leaders are formally asking the city's police department to "use discretion in addressing any Safer at Home violations and investigate all complaints."

The resolution continues that its purpose is to "serve as general guidance which allows residents and local businesses the freedom of choice to determine the safest method of addressing the COVID-19 pandemic moving forward."

We have not seen a similar resolution in south-central Wisconsin.