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Evers orders non-essential Wisconsin businesses closed

Updated: March 24, 2020 09:15 AM

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers says he will order the closure of all nonessential businesses starting Tuesday due to the coronavirus outbreak. He's also urging people to stay at home to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus that has killed four people in the state and infected more than 400.

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Evers tweeted Monday that he would be signing the order on Tuesday. He said he consulted with public health experts, business leaders and elected officials.

"Overwhelmingly, overwhelmingly, the response I heard is that we need an all-hands-on-deck approach to stop the spread of COVID-19 in Wisconsin," Evers said in a Monday afternoon press conference. "In fact, business leaders have suggested that it's imperative to slow this growth of the disease and that the state cease all nonessential businesses statewide."

It comes after Evers already ordered K-12 schools and a host of other businesses closed, including bars, restaurants and hair salons, and limited gatherings to no more than 10 people.

The newer, tighter restriction mirrors what other states have done, including neighboring Illinois.

"Whatever we can to stay home will help those healthcare workers do the jobs that they need to do to help us get through this," said Evers in a video he posted on his Twitter Monday morning.

Only businesses providing essential care or services will be allowed to continue to travel to and from work. This includes healthcare professionals, grocers, and family caregivers.

"We need the entire community be on board, but this is temporary, we're going to get through it. The vast majority of us are going to be just fine," said Superior Mayor Jim Paine.

This comes after Wisconsin saw in increase of over 400 COVID-19 cases. As of Monday, there's four confirmed cases in Douglas County. Businesses that aren't under the essential category are concerned.

"It's gonna be tough for them economically especially for their employees who are counting on that income," said Paine.

The Superior-Douglas County Area Chamber of Commerce says they're in contact with state officials on finding ways to support these businesses during this time.

"The Small Business Administration is drafting some legislation currently on some lending options that might be able to help with relief lending," said Taylor Pederson, the president and CEO for the Superior-Douglas County Area Chamber of Commerce.

Pederson says there's some other tools and plans in place to support those businesses and in the meantime is suggesting the community find ways to continue supporting businesses affected by this order.

"In the short term you can buy coupons or buy gift certificates to help businesses during this time and use them at a later time. There's also donations happening in the community," said Pederson.

Evers emphasized this does not mean Wisconsin residents can't go outside, he said to just limit travel to essential needs like seeing a doctor, or going grocery shopping.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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