MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Gov. Tony Evers issued an emergency order Tuesday limiting public indoor gatherings to 25% occupancy after Wisconsin became one of the nation’s COVID hotspots.

The order applies to any gathering open to the public including stores, restaurants, bars, other businesses, and spaces with ticketed events. It also applies to indoor, non-religious funerals, weddings and receptions that are open to the public.

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There are some spaces that are exempt from the order like colleges and universities, child care settings, health care and public health operations, religious events, political events and more. 

The changes will take effect at 8 a.m. on Thursday, Oct. 8, and will remain in place until Nov. 6.

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“We’re in a crisis right now and need to immediately change our behavior to save lives,” Gov. Evers said. “We are continuing to experience a surge in cases and many of our hospitals are overwhelmed, and I believe limiting indoor public gatherings will help slow the spread of this virus. Folks, we need your help and we need all Wisconsinites to work together during this difficult time. The sooner we get control of this virus, the sooner our economy, communities, and state can bounce back.”

On Tuesday, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services reported an increase of 2,020 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 18 new deaths. The seven-day average of new daily COVID-19 cases is 2,346 – up from 836 one month ago.

According to DHS’ Disease Activity dashboard, and as of Sept. 30, 45 Wisconsin counties meet the threshold of a “very high disease activity level,” which means there are more than 350 cases per 100,000 people in that county.

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All other counties also reported high case activity levels. This means Wisconsin residents should assume they will likely be exposed to the virus if they leave home and should practice all safety precautions, health officials say.