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Wisconsin lowers restaurants' indoor dining capacities to 25%

The state has become a COVID-19 hotspot, the state's top health official said.
Wisconsin Covid
Photograph: Shutterstock

Wisconsin is lowering the capacity caps on indoor restaurant dining to 25% of establishments’ interior seating, citing a steep surge in new coronavirus infections.

The rollback from the current 50% capacity limit will begin Thursday at 8 a.m. and run through Nov. 6, or what state health officials said is the equivalent of two COVID-19 incubation periods.

Bars and other places open to the public would also be subject to the 25% cap.

State health officials said the tighter controls are necessary because of a spike in cases within Wisconsin.  The largely rural jurisdiction reported 17,641 new COVID-19 cases for the last seven days, a tally exceeded only by California and Texas. Andrea Palm, Wisconsin’s incoming secretary of health services, noted in announcing the capacity rollback that those states have populations 6.8 and five times the population of her state.

“Wisconsin is now a COVID-19 hotspot,” she wrote.

Her directive to lower the cap on indoor activities came as New York officials are looking at suspending dine-in service altogether in 20 New York City neighborhoods. Nine of the areas would also be prohibited from offering outdoor dining.

California similarly re-closed dining rooms after new infections soared in early July, and Texas rolled back dining room capacities to 25% weeks earlier.

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