MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers is cracking down as cases of COVID-19 skyrocket in his state.

Starting Thursday, all public indoor gatherings will be limited to 25% of a building’s capacity.

Wisconsin has seen more than 17,000 new cases of the virus over the past seven days. That’s more than double Minnesota, which has seen just over 7,000 new cases over the same time period.

Downtown Hudson has stayed bustling during the pandemic, but Evers’ latest emergency order could change that. Pete Foster owns three spots in town, including San Pedro Cafe.

“I was actually very surprised, a little taken back, in terms of the content of his message,” Foster said.

Businesses in neighboring Minnesota have been operating at 25% capacity for months, and now it’s Wisconsin’s turn. The governor’s limitation on indoor gatherings impact stores, restaurants, businesses that allow the public in and ticketed events.

“We’ve been extremely diligent in all of the measures we’ve taken, but now we’re being penalized,” Foster said.

He voluntarily reduced the indoor space 50% to 60% in April, and invested in plastic partitions, fabric divider and an air filtration system. He says he’s still absorbing the news, and needs to run the numbers.

“It might just be a better financial decision for us to just close down all together and ride it out, and then open up when things are back to whatever normal is,” Foster said.

Sara Bocklund was among the residents protesting stricter public health oversight in St. Croix County. She opposes the governor’s mandate.

“It’s government overreach, it’s unconstitutional,” Bocklund said.

Diner Shari Scherer said she has mixed emotions, but will comply.

“Because that’s what we need to do to get through the pandemic, and hopefully make the numbers get reduced,” Scherer said.

The mandate starts Thursday at 8 a.m., and is in effect through Nov. 6.

St. Croix County officials told WCCO it’s one of many counties that have seen a sharp rise in COVID cases, and the order is an attempt to change the trajectory.

Jennifer Mayerle

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