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Wisconsin Small Business Owners Brace For COVID Restrictions: 'I'm Not About To Just Lay Down'

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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Wisconsin is reporting more than 3,000 new COVID-19 cases in one day.

The surge has prompted the state to issue a new order which limits the size of public indoor gatherings. That will impact retailers and restaurant owners across the state.

Pete Foster is the owner of San Pedro Café in Hudson.

"We're being penalized with what's happening on the east side of the state, obviously with what's happening on the campuses," Foster said.

San Pedro serves Caribbean food with a COVID twist. Employees are wearing masks, and plastic dividers are in place. But now, Foster -- who also owns two other Hudson restaurants -- is being asked to do more.

"When we're talking about getting down to 25% capacity, that is a situation where it's really a losing battle for me," Foster said.

READ MORE: 'We Hoped This Day Wouldn't Come': Wisconsin Opens Field Hospital At State Fairgrounds As COVID-19 Cases Surge

The 25% capacity order will be in place until Nov. 6. Foster said his patio seating has helped during the warm weather months, but with cold weather coming and new restrictions, he said he could be forced to temporarily close one of his restaurants.

"I've been here for 26 years and poured my life into these restaurants, and I'm not about to just lay down," Foster said.

Like bars and restaurants, Wisconsin retailers are also adjusting to the new order, as they try and figure out what this means for them.

Julie Stanley and Kelly Lavers are co-owners of Et Cetera, a gifts and home décor store on 2nd Street.

"Customers come and they're not really sure what the rules are," Lavers said.

"It's hard to say. 'Well, two of you have to sit out outside, you know, we've reached the capacity,'" Stanley said.

They opened right after the pandemic began. For them, adapting is just a part of doing business.

"We do want there to be some clarifications so that with, in the hopes that if everyone does follows the rules then things will get better," Lavers said. "And the sooner things get better, the sooner everybody can get back to business."

It's estimated that nearly half of the country's top metro hot spots for COVID are in the state of Wisconsin, with most of those located in the northeastern part of the state.


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