Wisconsin retailers and drive-in theaters allowed limited re-opening as COVID-19 slows.

Retail store will be allowed to serve five customers at a time, and drive-through theaters may resume operations under safety guidelines. Photos: Richard Hurd and Massachusetts Office Of Travel & Tourism. Graphic: Sam Buisman

Author: Sam Buisman

Wisconsin permits retail stores to host five customers at a time and drive-through theaters to re-open under certain restrictions as the spread of COVID-19 starts to slow.

An emergency order from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services released today allows in-person retail stores to serve up to five customers if they can do so while following social distancing guidelines. The order also allows for drive-in movie theaters to re-open under guidelines to keep patrons in their cars as much as possible.

“In addition to added flexibilities and steps we have already taken for businesses,” said Governor Tony Evers in a press release, “this is another disciplined turn of the dial that will allow Wisconsin’s business owners to safely get back to work and Wisconsin consumers to support their favorite local spots.”

These new permissions come as Wisconsin’s rate of new COVID-19 cases begins to slow. According to WisContext, Wisconsin’s 7-day average of new daily cases peaked on May 6, with an average of 340 new cases per day that week. Now, on May 11, that daily average has fallen to 312 new cases, suggesting that the state may be making progress in the fight against the coronavirus.

However, state Republicans argue that these initial improvements mean that Wisconsin is ready to re-open and that this new order does not go far enough.

In a press release, Speaker Robin Vos criticized the order as overcautious.

“It’s another day and another confusing emergency order. We’ve flattened the curve by being careful and using common sense,” said Vos. “It’s time to get everyone back to work in every part of the state.”

According to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, there are currently 10,418 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Wisconsin, 474 of which are in Dane county.