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University of Wisconsin System President Tommy Thompson joined leaders of the Tavern League of Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Restaurant Association in asking bar and restaurant owners to enforce mask mandates and encourage physical distancing as students return to universities for on campus instruction.

Thompson, Tavern League Executive Director Pete Madland, and Restaurant Association President and CEO Kristine Hillmer said in a letter to the groups’ members that they play a crucial role in helping prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“Across our country, we have seen the consequences when large numbers of young people congregate in public settings, including bars and restaurants. Those consequences have led to the reversal or suspension of plans to provide in-person instruction,” the letter says. “We know that nobody wants this outcome. The UW System is actively promoting to students the need to engage in healthy behavior. We are asking you to engage your membership on these critical efforts as well.”

The UW System has developed robust testing protocols to diagnose and monitor COVID-19 as one component of a comprehensive strategy to mitigate risk that includes promoting behaviors that reduce spread, maintaining healthy environments, and preparing for when someone gets sick.