Restaurants in Hudson, Wis. prepare to reopen
Businesses across Wisconsin are opening back up after the state's Supreme Court struck down Gov. Tony Evers's "safer at home" order, which was set to expire May 26. Justices ruled that Evers's administration overstepped their authority.
“The ruling ignored the science and unfortunately is going to put people on a dangerous path,” Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes said. “We were in a place that showed that the steps we had taken, the safer at home, saved lives.”
He also chastised the crowds that gathered at bars on Wednesday night.
“I think it's very reckless,” Barnes said. “That’s the kind of activity we strongly discourage for business owners, to create that sort of environment where they condone that lack of regard for social distancing. I don't know how they can comfortably continue their operations.”
Enforcement is now up to local governments, Barnes said.
On the St. Croix County website, health officials posted they are working on “implementing a local plan” while also asking the public to follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for social distancing, sanitizing and wearing a mask in public.
At Dick’s Bar and Grill in Hudson, the team was rushing to finish renovations so they can reopen next week.
"The phone has been ringing non-stop," Eric Raley said. "People saying, 'Are you guys ready yet? Are you ready?'"
Raley’s wife owns the bar. He said they’ve spent the past few weeks cleaning the 160-year-old establishment from top to bottom, renovating the bar and upgrading the attached restaurant.
For the past two weeks, they’ve also been doing curbside pickup. Now they are waiting to hear if there will be more guidance from the state on the court’s decision.
“We’re just going to tiptoe along and see what happens, and if there’s no restrictions, we’ll open the floodgates because people want to get back in here,” said Raley.
They plan to let customers decide whether they want to socially distance or wear a mask. They’re also prepared to make changes.
“It’s a big enough building that if we had to go to 50%, 25% capacity, we could still house quite a few people,” he said. “We’re just going to take it day by day and play it out, see what happens.
“If they put restrictions on us, then we’ll follow them and go from there. It’s getting back up and running, getting our staff back in place, is what we’re really excited about.”
Retailers already have their doors open, following a decision by Evers. They were allowed to reopen on Monday with restrictions in place, including limiting customers to five at a time.
“It’s a new lifestyle that we’re going to need to adapt to,” said Kendra Wiesemeyer, owner of The 715 and Grace and Grit. “Everybody just be considerate of everybody and be kind and we’ll get through it.”
She’s encouraged there will be more traffic downtown.
“We all rely on each other, and it’s an experience coming to Hudson, so the restaurants and the bars, they’re all an integral part of all of it,” she said.