Swearingen, Tavern League: Allow Restaurants To Reopen May 1

Apr 21, 2020

Rep. Rob Swearingen (R-Rhinelander).

The Tavern League of Wisconsin wants Gov. Tony Evers to allow bars and restaurants to reopen May 1.

That’s almost a full month before Evers’ new Safer at Home order is set to expire.  The order is designed to address the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

State Rep. Rob Swearingen (R-Rhinelander) also owns the Al-Gen Supper Club in Rhinelander.

He said the Safer at Home order is hurting businesses like his.

“We’re pretty frustrated,” he said. “These hospitality places, they lost St. Patrick’s Day. They lost Easter. They lost the opening of fishing season. They’re going to lose Mother’s Day. Now, they’re being threatened with losing Memorial Day. All of these are big benchmark weekends as we head into the tourism season.”

The Tavern League is suggesting safety measures like social distancing and the use of masks if bars and restaurants are allowed to open.

Swearingen believes the state’s economy could reopen regionally.

If rural places like the Northwoods have few cases, he said, they could open before COVID-19 hotspots like Milwaukee County.

“I think that business owners and customers are both smart enough to keep doing the precautionary measures that we’re doing, and maybe we could do a soft or gradual reopening, where these places get up to 50 percent capacity, and then, once that’s working, maybe, hopefully, get back up to 100 percent down the road. I think there could be a regional opening,” he said.

Swearingen supports a Republican attempt to sue the Evers administration over the Safer at Home extension.

However, he said he doesn’t back an effort suggested by some lawmakers to fire Health Services Sec.-designee Andrea Palm.