Oct 1, 2020

Spike in COVID-19 Cases in Wisconsin: WRA Urges Restaurants to Adhere to Prevention Measures

wi_red-zoneAs hospitalizations rise dramatically, the White House COVID-19 task force has declared Wisconsin a red zone for the first time in the COVID-19 pandemic. A red zone is defined as place where there is the highest level of community spread of the disease.

According to the Wisconsin Hospital Association, hospitals around the state - especially those in more rural areas - are at or close to reaching their capacity to handle COVID-19 patients. 

In response, we anticipate that some counties and municipalities will enact business restrictions or closures in order to curb the spread. It is possible that some may issue their own safer at home orders.

WRA has been communicating with local municipalities about the safety measures that restaurants are taking and ways to have restaurants stay open while ensuring the safety of customers and employees.

WRA cannot emphasize enough how important it is for all businesses to adhere to recommended COVID-19 prevention practices as outlined by CDC and other expert resources. It is critical that we all work together to stem this surge in positive cases to protect our employees, customers and our industry’s economic future.

We recommend you make sure you are implementing the following in your establishment:

  • Retrain all employees on the need to stay home if they are ill and to avoid situations outside of work where they could be exposed to COVID-19. The majority of cases of ill restaurant employees come from their attendance at gatherings outside of the restaurant.
  • Retrain all employees on proper distancing and cleaning procedures in your establishment including frequent handwashing and mandatory wearing of face coverings.
  • Space all tables, indoors or outside, at six feet apart measured from the back of each chair as a customer would sit in it. Consider requiring all customers to be seated, even in bar areas, to ensure social distancing between groups.
  • Enforce the statewide mask mandate. Regardless of your opinion (or that of your customers) regarding the use of masks, you greatly increase your restaurant’s liability and adversely affect the health and safety of your staff and customers if you do not require the use of masks when people are not actively eating and drinking. According to the Restaurant Law Center, even if there was not a statewide mask order, restaurants that do not adhere to best practices, including mask use, are at a much greater risk of liability for ill employees or patrons. They also expose themselves to action from OSHA for not providing a safe workspace.

More Information on Best Practices:

Wisconsin Department of Health Services

CDC Bars and Restaurants

CDC Frequently Asked Questions for Businesses