Evers extends Safer at Home to May 26, closes schools for the year
Gov. Tony Evers has directed the Department of Health Services to extend the Safer at Home order for more than a month.
, which was set to expire in eight days, will now be in effect until 8 a.m. on May 26, which is the day after Memorial Day, unless another superseding order changes it.
“A few weeks ago, we had a pretty grim outlook for what COVID-19 could mean for our state, but because of the efforts of all of you, Safer at Home is working. That said, we aren't out of the woods just yet,” said Gov. Evers.
According to Evers, everyone's compliance has helped flatten the curve and reduced the number of hospitalizations. He noted that several weeks about there were projections of 440 to 1,500 deaths in the state.
Currently, the total stands at 197.
"We saved lives together," he added.
The directive includes several changes including closing schools for the rest of the school year and it will also allow golf courses to reopen. The full list of changes from Gov. Evers' announcement:
- Public libraries: Public libraries may now provide curb-side pick-up of books and other library materials.
- Golf Courses: Golf courses may open again, with restrictions including scheduling and paying for tee times online or by phone only. Clubhouse s and pro shops must remain closed.
- Non-essential Businesses: Non-essential businesses will now be able to do more things as Minimum Basic Operations, including deliveries, mailings, and curb-side pick-up. Non-essential businesses must notify workers of whether they are necessary for the Minimum Basic Operations.
- Arts and Crafts Stores: Arts and craft stores may offer expanded curb-side pick-up of materials necessary to make face masks or other personal protective equipment (PPE).
- Aesthetic or Optional Exterior Work: Aesthetic or optional exterior lawn care or construction is now allowed under the extended order, so long as it can be done by one person.
In his statement, Evers asserted his administration will rely on science and public health experts to help decide when the state can be reopened. DHS Secretary-designee Andrea Palm explained there will need to be more testing and "more robust health measures," before the order is lifted.
“These steps will help us reduce the risk of a second wave of the virus," she said.
Palm warns opening the state too soon risks overwhelming the state's hospitals and could mean returning 'drastic' social distancing measures.
Evers pointed out, though, that things won't be getting back to normal until a vaccine and treatment are developed.
"Even then our new normal won’t be the same as our old normal," he continued.
The highest ranking member of the Wisconsin Senate criticized Evers' decision, saying that it reflects a "one-size-fits-all approach" that does not take into account how different parts of the state have been affected. He cited rural communities that have not had as many reported cases, yet remain covered by the order.
The Republican Senator also attacked the Governor for not releasing a plan for how the state will get going again once the order is lifted.
“Everyone agrees that reasonable measures must be taken during a public health crisis. Health and safety are a priority, however to extend this order for another month without a plan for how to reopen the state or clear benchmarks for an early expiration is simply unacceptable," he said.
Noting that the Senate has not been involved in discussions about the order, Fitzgerald stated that lawmakers intend to look into taking legislative action in conjunction with the Governor's office, to find solutions.