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On October 6, 2020, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services Secretary-designee issued Emergency Order #3 (the “Order”), which will restrict the size of certain public gatherings beginning  October 8, 2020 at 8:00 a.m. and ending November 6, 2020.

The Order, which is intended to slow Wisconsin’s increase in COVID-19 infections, applies statewide and supersedes any less restrictive local order.

The Order  applies to any “public gathering,” defined as “an indoor event, convening, or collection of individuals, whether planned or spontaneous, that is open to the public and brings together people who are not part of the same household in a single room.”

Places that are “open to the public” include rooms within a business location or facility that allow members of the public to enter.

The following places are deemed to be “not open to the public”:  (1) office spaces, manufacturing plants, and other facilities accessible only by employees or other authorized personnel; (2) invitation-only events which exclude uninvited guests; and (3) private residences, except during an event that allows any individual to enter.

The Order limits “public gatherings” to no more than 25% of the municipality’s total occupancy limits for the room or building at issue. Indoor spaces without assigned occupancy limits must limit public gatherings to 10 people or less.

The Order exempts the following from limitations on public gatherings:

  1. Licensed and certified child care providers.
  2. Residential care centers, group homes, and foster homes.
  3. 4K-12 schools.
  4. Higher education institutions.
  5. Hospitals, medical facilities, and clinics.
  6. Long-term care and assisted living facilities.
  7. Public infrastructure operations such as food distribution and fulfillment centers, construction, building management and maintenance, and airports.
  8. State and local government operations and facilities, including polling locations.
  9. Places of religious worship.
  10. Political rallies, demonstrations, and other First Amendment speech activities.
  11. State facilities under the control of the Wisconsin Supreme Court and the Wisconsin Legislature.
  12. Federal facilities under the control of the federal government.

A violation of the Order is subject to a civil forfeiture of not more than $500.

As with most COVID-19 related legislation, legal challenges to the Order’s scope and/or validity may occur, which could impact its legality and enforceability. FOS will continue to monitor the Order and provide applicable updates as needed. Contact your FOS attorney with any questions or concerns you may have about the Order or other COVID-19 related issues.

Be well.