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You Ask, We Answer: Are stores violating fire codes with COVID-19 protocols?

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EAU CLAIRE (WQOW)- Wednesday's You Ask, We Answer question comes from Brian, who asked if COVID-19 protocols for entering and exiting stores are violating city fire codes?

Many local stores have created barricaded pathways or closed doorways to keep customers socially distanced, and according to the city of Eau Claire's Code of Ordinances, that is allowed as long as exits are unobstructed and unlocked.

Stores are allowed to direct customers through a single entryway as long as other emergency exits in the building remain unlocked as well.

Eau Claire's Fire Department says it has worked with businesses to resolve fire code issues, and is not aware of any COVID-19 protocols currently in violation.

"We've reached out to various businesses early on in the COVID event, and worked with them whenever they called or contacted us in some way to meet all of the fire code requirements and find ways to be COVID healthy at the same time," said Allyn Bertrang, deputy fire chief for Eau Claire Fire & Rescue.

Viewers have told News 18 that businesses like Woodman's have gone as far as blocking exits with shopping carts, which is a violation. News 18 reached out to Woodman's to confirm that, and store managers say they were not aware of that happening, and they have only been notified of a violation by local fire departments once, but for other reasons not pertaining to COVID-19 protocols.

If you have a question you want us to dig into, send us an email at or submit one here.

Evan Hong

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