GREEN BAY, WI. – COVID-19 cases have risen so far in Brown county that the Wisconsin Department of Health Services has issued another health alert across Green Bay and other contributing townships. Many speculations have been made by residents about how this spike in cases could have happened, with many attributing the issue to college students and the bar scene. In alignment with this speculation, on Thursday, October 8th, Wisconsin governor Tony Evers enacted a new order that cuts business capacity for bars and restaurants to 25%.
Popular bars and restaurants in Green Bay, such as The Sardine Can, Black Saddle Tavern & Oasis, Crown and Common, and Club 9Twenty, have released statements and plans for how they have been handling the state restrictions. These plans have included social distancing and wearing masks, yet social media images and videos show these plans are not always enacted. Images released by both staff of the establishments as well as students and local community member attendees have commonly shown large groups of people in close contact while often not wearing masks. In some rare instances, even staff members have been shown not following these rules. For instance, the popular bar on Broadway Street, The Sardine Can, recently removed and deleted their entire Instagram account (active since June 2018) after similar allegations surrounding their staff members. It is unknown if this was the reason for the removal, but the timeliness was notable. Similarly, Black Saddle Tavern & Oasis on Washington Street received criticism after a video of the bar went viral on TikTok, gaining several thousand views and showing both the bartenders and community members not following guidelines. This video can be found at the following LINK (warning: this content may be sensitive to some viewers).
As a result of the new state restrictions, mixed opinions on the latest state order have risen from residents, students, and business owners. While some students and business owners have expressed negative opinions on the new order, other community members have seen the changes as positive and beneficial to aiding the fight against the continuation of the health crisis.
Matt, a 21-year-old business administration major and UW-Green Bay sophomore shares, “I have missed going out to the bars, but with the amount of COVID-19 rules being broken, it’s probably for the better they get shut down or very limited at this point.”
From another point of view, Kolby, another college student and community resident said, “Although the new cut capacity of businesses should help lower the case count in Wisconsin. At what cost?”
We spoke to Gabrielle Fuggetta, the General Manager and a Co-Founder of Club 9Twenty in Green Bay, about what Club 9Twenty is doing to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 while still providing a place for students to go out and experience nightlife under the new state health orders. Gabrielle explained, “We are doing our best to make sure everyone can still enjoy the city while feeling safe. While we don’t require guests to wear masks right now, we ask that they follow social distancing guidelines. Guests are temperature screened before entering the building, and all staff is also required to the social distance while wearing masks.”
The Health Services announcement shares that more than 20 deaths have occurred two consecutive days in the state of Wisconsin. As of Friday, the state is averaging 2,440 cases a day for the past seven days.
Ryan Rickard, Logan Stae, Josh Yahr / October, 18th