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City, county won't patrol for gatherings on Thanksgiving, will enforce violations

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MADISON, Wis.– The CDC is discouraging Americans from traveling for Thanksgiving this year in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Local leaders are taking that guidance one step further by issuing an order prohibiting people from celebrating the holiday indoors with people they don’t live with.

Assistant City Attorney Marci Paulsen said Public Health Madison and Dane County is asking for voluntary compliance with Emergency Order 10, but any violations will be followed up with education and possible fines.

“Law enforcement always has the capabilities to either issue citations at the time or send it to my office for further action,” Paulsen said.

A Madison Police Department spokesperson said MPD helps PHMDC enforce the order as needed, and it does not have plans to focus on Thanksgiving gatherings.

Paulsen repeated that same message.

“We aren’t going to be out patrolling on Thanksgiving. We aren’t looking for parties. Law enforcement is not going to be looking to see who’s walking into who’s houses. Public health will not be out patrolling on Thanksgiving,” Paulsen said.

“I just don’t want to risk it at all,” Payton Udo said.

Udo is choosing to stay in Madison for Thanksgiving instead of heading home to the Twin Cities to visit family.

“I’ll probably video chat my family, as well, because I wish I could be with them clearly, and they really want me to come home, but I had to turn them down,” Udo said.

Local leaders are asking people to make that same decision.

Udo said if missing this one holiday means alleviating the stress on the healthcare system, it will be worth it.

“It costs more to go in all honesty, and to worry that I’m bringing something back than to have peace of mind of not going,” Udo said. “One big meal isn’t going to be the end of the world.

A reminder that the latest emergency order applies to mass gatherings, which is any gathering of people who aren’t members of the same household.

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