On Tuesday afternoon, Wisconsin’s DHS Secretary-designee, Andrea Palm, issued Emergency Order #3, Limiting Public Gatherings. The order is effective at 8:00 a.m. October 8, 2020, and will remain in effect until November 6, 2020.  

Under the order, public gatherings are limited to no more than 25% of the total occupancy limits for the room or building, as established by the local municipality. For indoor spaces without an occupancy limit for the room or building as established by the local municipality, such as a private residence, public gatherings are limited to not more than 10 people.  

DHS Order #3 defines “public gatherings” to mean an indoor event, convening, or collection of individuals, whether planned or spontaneous, that is open to the public and brings together people who are not part of the same household in a single room. Places that are open to the public include but are not limited to: rooms within a business location, store, or facility that allows members of the public to enter.  

The order delineates that places that are not open to the public include, but are not limited to: office spaces, manufacturing plants, and other facilities that are accessible only by employees or other authorized personnel. If a place is not considered “open to the public” the place is not part of the definition of a “public gathering” and therefore the place is not limited by Order #3.  

As some Wisconsin banks have recently reopened lobby locations throughout the state, banks should take into consideration that bank lobbies are indoor and allow for the convening or the collection of individuals who are not part of the same household in a single room location. As such, a bank lobby will be limited by Order #3 to no more than 25% of the total occupancy limits for the room or building, as established by the local municipality. Order #3 would require a bank whose lobby had reopened to restrict access in accordance with the order.  

Also, many Wisconsin banks have office spaces and to the extent that those spaces are not open to the public and are only accessible by employees or authorized personnel, the bank office spaces would not be limited by Order #3. For example, Bank A has a branch lobby located on Main Street in Anytown, Wisconsin. Bank A also has an office space that is an operations and processing center that is not open to the public and is only accessible to bank personnel. Bank A’s branch lobby location would be subject to the limitation as set forth in Order #3. Bank A’s operations and processing center would not be limited by Order #3 as it is an office space limited to only employees and authorized personnel. 

As has been the case throughout the pandemic, banks need to be aware of any orders issued by local governments as any local government may issue an order that is more restrictive than the provisions within Order #3. In which case, the bank must follow the most restrictive order. Emergency Order #3 may be found by clicking here.