Local law enforcement will educate and not issue citations for capacity order violations

FOX VALLEY, Wis. (WBAY) -The new state order limiting public gatherings to no more than 25% of a room or building’s total occupancy goes into effect at 8 a.m. Thursday morning. Like the safer at home order and the state’s mask mandate, this move is raising questions about enforcement.

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The new capacity order doesn’t go into effect until Thursday, but the idea of it being enforced is already drawing criticism from some business owners. In a now deleted Facebook post, the owner of a Fond du Lac Bar said he’s keeping his tavern open and doing what he wants to do — even calling out the Sheriff. The Sheriff tells me the owner apologized to him and said his frustration is with the governor, not local authorities.

But, according to the county health officer, what the state is asking people to do is something that is already being done in Fond du Lac County. It’s operating under phase one of its “Safe Restart Plan” which recommends only 25% capacity in businesses.

About the state’s plan Fond du Lac County Health Officer Kim Mueller says, “Very similar, our Safe Restart really lines up pretty well with what Governor Evers is requiring in his orders. Ours is more of a recommendation, his is an order so obviously that supersedes anything at the local level.”

Like the “Safe Restart Plan”, Fond du Lac County law enforcement is not getting involved in making sure people comply with the state order. Instead, people are encouraged to report concerns on the county’s health department website.

“Every time we do get a complaint, we do follow up with that business, providing them with information that this complaint came in, this is what it’s in regards to, and this is what you can do to help mitigate what you aren’t complying with,” says Mueller.

Voluntary compliance is a term being used by local law enforcement. Brown, Outagamie, and Winnebago County Sheriff’s Offices say they will respond to complaints about people violating the capacity order, but instead of citing businesses, they’ll work with public health to educate those businesses about the order.

And if businesses continue to violate the order, Kim Mueller from Fond du Lac County has this advice, “If you don’t feel safe going into a certain establishment that potentially isn’t following what is required don’t go in.”

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