MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - With warmer weather drawing a growing number of people to outdoor gathering spots, the University of Wisconsin-Madison has adopted a new order to ensure public safety through physical distancing and related public health measures as campus prepares to reopen.
The order requires people on campus grounds to stay at least 6 feet away from others who are not part of their household.
Visitors to campus are also asked to follow limits on the total number of people allowed in an area and to remain outside areas that are closed with fences, gates or other barriers.
These requirements apply to all campus lands including but not limited to Memorial Union Terrace, Alumni Park, the Arboretum, the Lakeshore Nature Preserve, Bascom Hill, Gordon Commons lawn and recreation fields.
UW-Madison Public Information Officer Marc Lovicott said public gatherings at the Memorial Union Terrace in particular has caused problems.
"Fencing and barricades are being installed and we'll be able to use those tools when the Terrace does have a reopening plan to implement and limit the number of people that go in and out," Lovicott explained.
Temporary fencing will also be installed around Alumni Park and the Goodspeed Family Pier to limit access to those areas until a reopening process is in place; the pier is also closed to boaters.
In recent weeks, despite enforcement efforts, those areas have seen particularly heavy usage in violation of public health guidance to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
"We hope these measures will work and we hope we can use this to educate people," Lovicott said. "The last thing we want to do is write citations."
"There is nothing like summer on the Terrace and this year more than ever, we are committed to ensuring our community can enjoy this special place," says Mark Guthier, associate vice chancellor for student affairs and director of the Wisconsin Union. "We appreciate everyone's patience as we work to put in place measures to welcome members and guests back safely."
The university will promote voluntary compliance with the order through education and communication; however, violators are subject to citation and fine.
"Like everyone else, we're looking forward to getting back to a sense of normalcy and enjoying our beautiful campus," said Kristen Roman, UW-Madison Police Chief in a statement. "We appreciate everyone's assistance in abiding by these new university orders as we start preparing for parts of campus to reopen."
"We know that these spaces are favorite gathering spots for our alumni and friends," said Sarah Schutt, Executive Director of the Wisconsin Alumni Association, which operates Alumni Park and the Goodspeed Family Pier. "We are committed to supporting campus efforts to ensure the safety of students, staff and guests. We look forward to a day very soon where Badgers can gather together in the spaces we love best."
UW-Madison is developing a phased reopening plan based on federal, state and local public health guidelines.