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Wisconsin’s Governor Closes Restaurant Dining Rooms March 17

At an afternoon briefing on March 17, 2020, the Governor ordered restaurants to stop in-service dining as of 5 p.m. The briefing addressed many other responses to the COVID 19 (Coronavirus) pandemic. The briefing was available on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rv9lwwZdtTk&feature=youtu.be&fbclid=IwAR2H0fMk3wwIYx0DdQbVc8HuJGslerBOVfADpVrWHwMPBU-hVxHD8xfvGuw

The order is now available online 

Under the order, effective at 5:00 PM on Tuesday March 17 2020 the following applies:

  • all public and private “mass gatherings” (more than 10 people) are prohibited in Wisconsin
  • all gatherings smaller than mass gatherings must preserve social distancing of 6 feet between people and follow all other public health recommendations issued by the Wisconsin Department of Health services and Centers for Disease control
  • all bars and restaurants shall close, except that restaurants may remain open for take-out or delivery service. Requirements include:
    • no seating may be provided
    • food may not be consumed at the restaurant
    • the restaurant shall preserve social distancing of 6 feet between customers during pickup 
What if I have more than 9 people waiting in my restaurant to pick up takeout food?
 At the briefing, they indicated that while there are possible punishments for violating the order, they were counting on the public to voluntarily comply. A good faith effort to follow the order may make it more likely to avoid prosecution. If you do have groups of more than 9, you could try separating them while they wait (if facilities allow it), asking people in the same group if all but one could wait in the car/cab/outside, offer curbside delivery, scheduling pick up times to be spaced to avoid the situation, or other reasonable methods to keep the group size under 9 (while preserving social distancing of 6 feet between customers during pickup). 

Update: We are aware of some municipalities telling restaurants that while patrons can enter the restaurant to pick up their to go orders, if the order is not ready, the patrons must wait outside.

DISCLAIMER: The information provided is for general informational purposes only. This post is not updated to account for changes in the law and should not be considered tax or legal advice. This article is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship. You should consult with legal and/or financial advisors for legal and tax advice tailored to your specific circumstances.

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