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Health officials close indoor service at Madison bars

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Public health officials are closing indoor service at bars in Madison as the Fourth of July weekend approaches and as the number of coronavirus cases accelerate, many involving young people in Wisconsin’s largest college town.

The order from Public Health Madison & Dane County effective Thursday allows bars that have patios to keep them open and it limits the number of people who may eat inside restaurants to 25% capacity, the Journal Sentinel reported.

Since June 13, 614 people have tested positive for coronavirus and half of them were between the ages of 18 and 29.

“For the past week, Dane County has seen a sustained, high number of cases. After consultation with our contact tracing team, gatherings and visits to bars and restaurants continue to be implicated in interviews with cases,” Janel Heinrich, the agency’s director said in a statement.

Bar owners are weighing a legal challenge.

The Tavern League of Wisconsin lobbyist Scott Stenger said public health officials are unfairly punishing bar owners and not taking into account what role the recent protests over police brutality may have in the surge.

“To make out bars to be a scapegoat of an increase when you’ve had historic protests for three weeks straight — it seems a bit irresponsible to not factor that in,” Stenger said.

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