Lawmakers, restaurant industry reacts to 'Safer at Home' extension

By Brennen Scarborough, WSAW

WAUSAU, Wis. - Local restaurants and bar owners are not happy about the recent "Safer at Home" extension because they say the future of small businesses is not looking good.

"What they're saying now is we're not going to make it. You know we have done everything we could to make it through this last month. Sadly, some of our members didn't make it through the last month," Wisconsin Tavern League Spokesperson Scott Stenger said.

Right now, restaurants and even some bars are limited to takeout and delivery, which they said is not enough.

"To-go is not doing it, it's not paying the bills. To-go might have worked for a month, and it might have gotten us from March to April, but there is just no conceivable way for us without having a dramatic increase in business, that that's going to work," Stenger added.

Local Wisconsin lawmakers say that they understand how difficult the situation is.

"Business here in the state already operate on razor thin margins. Success for them can be 3-5%. And to have them go another month and a half with no income, no ability to conduct business, that's one of the biggest fears that I have. If this were to continue, many of these businesses will never open their doors again," stated Republican State Senator Patrick Testin.

But, in order for the state to return to normalcy, lawmakers said that more testing needs to be done.

"If we invest in wide spread testing and contact tracing we can reopen the economy. But, we have to have those things in place or else all the work that we did staying at home and flattening the curve will result in new spikes. So, we don't want to undo that work, but we have to get the wide scale testing and robust contact tracing," Democratic Representative Katrina Shankland added.

Even though many restaurant owners say they want to be open as soon as possible, they know safety is the top priority.

"We understand that we have to be safe, that's of the utmost importance from all of my members. We want to make sure that we are providing a safe environment for employees and our customers. But, we also have to look at it and say that we can do this in a safe way that makes sense, that isn't going to put these thousands and thousands of mom and pop businesses out of business," Stenger explained.

They said that if you would like to voice your opinion, the best way to do that is to contact the governor's office.