Crowds flock to Lake Geneva for Memorial Day Weekend

Posted at 10:28 PM, May 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-24 23:39:13-04

Out of state crowds flocked to Lake Geneva on Sunday, escaping the Illinois lockdown and ignoring social distancing recommendations.

After public health orders were relaxed in Wisconsin last week, tourists from Illinois have been arriving in the small town to enjoy the new freedoms.

"I'm surprised," said Kevin Tesher of Tinley Park, Ill. "This is the most people I've seen in months. It's just so different to see everyone without masks and they're going in stores so comfortably," he said.

Some residents from Illinois remain frusturated with coronavirus restrictions.

"We wouldn’t have so many crazy Chicagoans here if they just realized that states should all be following the same thing, not have a free for all in one and having really close restrictions in another," said Peyton Anderson of Chicago.

As of Sunday, Illinois has 110,304 cases, and Wisconsin has 15,277. Walworth County which has reported 348 cases.

Hundreds of people were spotted at Riviera Beach on Sunday, which the Lake Geneva Common Council voted to open last week. A beach supervisor resigned over concerns about the pandemic.

Only 300 people are allowed on the beach at a time, required to social distance. Many people had spaced out their plots on the sand. Staff were wearing gloves and were reminding beach goers to keep their distance.

Linda Frame, the Harbormaster for the City of Lake Geneva, said the beach normally has a capacity of more than 700. She said she wasn't surprised at the size of Sunday's crowd. She added the beach had maxed out by 10:30 Sunday morning, and at some points the lines stretched down the block to Main Street.

"It's been like a state fair on the busiest day of the week," Frame said.

"I feel comfortable," said Shawna Dolan of Chicago. "We’re still keeping our distance from people."

The Centers for Disease Control has issued updated guidelines regarding travel within the United States, and it still maintains staying home is the best way to keep yourself safe. The Wisconsin Department of Health Services recommends people who live in Wisconsin cancel or postpone travel, even within the state.

Report a typo or error // Submit a news tip

Coronavirus in Wisconsin

More data on Wisconsin's vaccination progress here.

Find a vaccination site here.

Check out county-by-county coronavirus case numbers here.

More information: COVID-19 on the Wisconsin DHS website

Latest news and headlines here.