(The Center Square) – Small shops in Wisconsin can open their doors to a handful of customers under the latest change to the state’s Safer at Home order.
Gov. Tony Evers on Monday said stand-alone retailers and shops in strip malls can open to five people at a time.
“This is focused on small retailers,” the governor said. “I don’t speak for the Kohl’s corporation, but I can’t imagine them opening their stores for five people.”
Evers is also allowing drive-in movie theaters to open, but everyone has to stay in their car.
The governor say this “turning of the dial” does not include barbers or hair salons.
“In our definition, retailers are selling final products, and not services,” Evers said.
The decision to reopen some businesses comes despite the governor’s own Badger Bounce Back criteria not being met.
Although the Wisconsin Department of Health Services says there has been a downward trend of coronavirus cases over the past two weeks, DHS says there are still too many people testing positive for the virus, and too many of those people are in healthcare.
DHS’s official coronavirus count for Monday stood at 10,418 positive tests since March, and 108,033 negative tests in the same time period. DHS says 409 people have died from the virus.
Those numbers come after two weeks of increased testing.
“It really is a good development that as we’ve tested in more places we’re not finding, proportionally, more and more cases,” DHS Dr. Ryan Westergaard said Monday. “But the absolute number of new cases is higher than where we want it to be.”
Many lawmakers say it’s good to see steps toward reopening Wisconsin’s economy, but add that it’s disappointing to see Evers once again change his Safer at Home order on the fly.
“Gov. Evers continues to miss the mark by tinkering,” Sen Duey Stroebel, R-Saukville, said on Twitter. “Hospitalizations are down or flat over the last week. Businesses and citizens are acting sensibly. Wisconsin is ready to open up – NOW!”
Sen. Tom Tiffany, R-Minocqua, echoed the same idea.
“Gov. Evers is continuing to change how businesses can operate while his ‘Safer at Home’ order is in place,” he said Monday.
The governor said the businesses that will reopen under this new tweak are “deserving.”
His new order takes effect immediately.
Benjamin Yount reports on Illinois and Wisconsin statewide issues for The Center Square. Reposted with permission.