Tavern League pushes for bars, restaurants to reopen by May 1

Calls for adopting a "Safe at Work" policy

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The Tavern League of Wisconsin wants bars, restaurants and supper clubs across the state to reopen about three weeks before Gov. Tony Evers’ extended Safer at Home order expires.

In a statement Monday, the lobbying group’s president Chris Marsicano called on Gov. Evers to allow those business to reopen by May 1 by adopting a “Safe at Work” policy.

The tavern league provided a list of criteria for how to reopen while keeping employees and customers safe from the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. It includes requiring all employees to wear face masks and gloves, spacing out tables by six feet, limiting seating to six people per table, reducing total capacity by 50% and eliminating paper menus, self-serve buffets and table condiments.

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Bars and restaurants in Wisconsin have been closed since March 17, when the state introduced restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus. The order has allowed establishments to offer carryout and delivery services, but many operators say it’s not enough to keep their business running long term.

The tavern league argued that, with no vaccine available for 12 to 18 months, challenges of fighting the virus will remain the same once the state’s Safer at Home order lifts on May 26.

“Wisconsinites cannot live under a Stay at Home Order for the next 12 to 18 months,” said Marsicano. “The safety of our customers and employees is the most important factor moving forward. Without protecting their safety, we have no viable business.”

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Earlier this month, the Wisconsin Tavern League launched a fundraising effort called Communities Helping Empower Employers to Remain Successful, or C.H.E.E.R.S. All contributions will be donated directly to the league’s members in good standing as of March 1.

The league says it has more than 5,000 members.

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