'Safer at Home' order goes into effect at 8 a.m. Wednesday

Published: Mar. 24, 2020 at 8:13 AM CDT
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The ‘Safer at Home’ order directing people not to leave their home unless necessary has been issued and goes into effect at 8 a.m. Wednesday. It is scheduled to end on Friday, April 24, or until a superseding order is issued.

Gov. Tony Evers stated Tuesday that he has requested the Department of Health Safety to issue the order and that it would go into effect on Wednesday at 8 a.m. The decree will force the closure of non-essential businesses.

“I know the COVID-19 outbreak has been difficult and has disrupted the lives of people across our state. Issuing a Safer at Home order isn’t something I thought we’d have to do and it’s not something I take lightly, but here’s the bottom line: folks need to start taking this seriously,” said Gov. Evers.

Evers explained the mandate is not a lockdown, rather it is an attempt to limit unnecessary trips. People will still be able to go to the grocery store or to the pharmacy or the gas station, among other businesses considered essential.

The order allows Wisconsinites to:

  • Perform tasks essential to maintain health and safety, such as obtaining medicine or seeing a doctor;
  • Get necessary services or supplies for themselves or their family or household members, such as getting food and supplies, pet food and supplies necessary for staying at home;
  • Care for a family member in another household; and
  • Care for older adults, minors, dependents, people with disabilities or other vulnerable persons.

His office explained that people will not need special permission to leave their home but they must comply with when it is permissible. Also, if a business is deemed essential, it does not need documentation or certification to continue its work, so long as it is done in compliance with the order.

Here are businesses allowed to operate under the 'Safer at Home' order:

  • Health care operations, including home health workers;
  • Critical infrastructure;
  • Businesses that provide food, shelter, and social services, and other necessities of life for economically disadvantaged or otherwise vulnerable individuals;
  • Fresh and non-perishable food retailers, including convenience stores, grocery stores, farmers’ markets, and food banks;
  • Businesses that ship or deliver groceries, food and goods directly to residences;
  • Pharmacies, health care supply stores and health care facilities;
  • Child care facilities, with some limitations;
  • Gas stations and auto repair facilities;
  • Banks;
  • Laundry businesses, dry cleaners and services necessary for maintaining the safety, sanitation and essential operation of a residence, including garbage collection;
  • Hardware stores, plumbers, and electricians;
  • Educational institutions, for the purposes of facilitating distance learning;
  • Roles required for any business to maintain minimum basic operations, which includes security, and payroll; and
  • Law and safety, and essential government functions will continue under the recommended action.

Evers' office noted that the list does not include all essential businesses.

If a company needs to know if is considered essential, it is asked to contact the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation

Wisconsin's Republican Party issued a statement following Evers' order criticizing the decision and accusing him of "caus(ing) mass confustion."

"Yesterday, he chose to announce his forthcoming shelter in place order on Twitter, sat silent for nearly 24 hours, and then released a 16-page order that exposes violators to up to 30 days of imprisonment," GOP Chair Andrew Hitt said.

He also urged Evers to take more than one question from each reporters during a news conference held to explain the declaration, saying that Wisconsinites are demanding answers.

According to Evers, the decision comes after consultation with public health experts, business leaders, and local elected officials across Wisconsin. “Overwhelmingly the response I heard is that we need an all-hands-on-deck approach to stopping the spread of COVID-19 in Wisconsin,” he said Monday.

Evers has also urged people to limit their interactions, recommending they only have contact with the same individuals and not different small groups. They should also not schedule play dates or sleep overs, or dinner parties, etc.

By enacting such an order, Wisconsin will join states like California, Illinois, and Ohio who have made similar asks of their residents.