Wisconsin’s Safer at Home Order Extended to May 26, 2020

April 16, 2020 | COVID | Current Events


The last few days have seen a flurry of action from our state government. On April 15, Governor Evers signed a COVID relief bill into law to help businesses and the citizens of Wisconsin get through the pandemic. Today, Governor Evers extend the Safer at Home order already in effect.

What does the COVID relief bill do?

First, it gets rid of the one week waiting period for unemployment benefits, pursuant to recent federal legislation. Additionally, it allows local governments to elect to defer collection of property taxes or assessment of interest for unpaid property taxes.

The bill requires the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation to submit to the legislature and governor, by June 30, a report containing a plan on how to support major industries affected by the COVID−19 public health emergency, including tourism, manufacturing, agriculture, forest products, construction, retail, and services. The bill also gives $75 million to the Joint Finance Committee to be used for expenditures related to the COVID emergency.

Finally, the bill addresses a potential shortage of healthcare/emergency workers by allowing retired state employees to seek employment in “critical positions” (to be determined by agency heads) without any reduction or suspension in receipt of their monthly annuity payments. During the emergency period, healthcare-providing employees that are licensed in other states but not in Wisconsin may perform healthcare in the capacity in which they are licensed if that performance is necessary for a healthcare facility to continue operations and the employee notifies the Department of Safety and Professional Services within 5 days of beginning of employment and applies for a temporary license within 10 days. The law also provides civil immunity for some healthcare providers that meet certain criteria. Finally, the bill relaxes licensing, training, and orientation requirements for some healthcare professionals such as nursing students and nurses’ aides.

Safer at Home Order Modified and Extended

On April 16, Governor Evers authorized an extension of the existing Safer at Home order, previously slated to expire on April 24. The new order will go into effect on April 24 and continue until May 26. As the new order extends and supplements the existing order, most of existing order will remain in place. You can find our summary of the original Safer at Home order here.

Public and private K-12 schools have been ordered closed for the remainder of this school year, but may continue virtual learning.

A number of restrictions were loosened with the updated order.  While all individuals and businesses must follow social distancing requirements, some key changes to the existing order include:

  • Retail stores that are allowed to be open as an Essential Business must limit the amount of customers in their stores. Stores with less than 50,000 square feet of customer floor space shall limit the amount of people in the store, including employees, to 25% of the total occupancy limits for the space. Stores of more than 50,000 square feet of customer floor space must limit the space to 4 customers per 1,000 square feet of customer floor space and offer at least 2 hours per week of shopping time dedicated to vulnerable individuals (defined as people over 60, pregnant women, and those with chronic health conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and lung disease.)
  • Businesses that are open are to establish lines to regulate entry, with markings for patrons to enable them to stand 6 feet apart. Stores are encouraged to use alternatives to lines, such as allowing customers to wait in their car until prompted by text message to pick up orders or enter the store.
  • Libraries may arrange curb-side pick-up for books or other materials as long as all operations are performed by one person. Materials must be requested online or over the phone in advance and no signature can be required of the patron.
  • Golf courses (excluding driving ranges or miniature golf courses) may open, as long as tee times and payment are taken in advance, clubhouses remain closed and the use of golf carts is prohibited.
  • Local health officials are given discretion to close any parks or open spaces if they are overcrowded, vandalized, or there have been repeat violations of the Safer at Home Order.
  • The new order expands Minimum Basic Operations that non-essential employers/businesses may engage in, including: deliveries, mailing and receiving parcels if all operations are performed by one person, and curb-side pick-up of goods (as long as no signature is required from the customer).
  • Non-essential businesses and operations must determine which of their workers are necessary to conduct Minimum Basic Operations and inform such workers of that designation.
  • Aesthetic or optional exterior residential construction and lawn care may be performed, if all operations are performed by one person, whether in a confined space, vehicle, or on a site. Aesthetic or optional exterior work requiring more than one person on the site is prohibited.
  • Arts and crafts stores may offer curb-side pick-up and may allow employees to work only for the purpose of providing materials from which masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE) are made.

The updated order elaborates upon requirements and recommendations for safe practices, including:

  • Businesses that fall under the definition of Essential Businesses and Operations because they manufacture or provide supplies for other Essential Businesses or Essential Government Functions may only perform those business operations which are necessary for the Essential Business and Operations to which they are supplying goods or services. Any non-essential goods or services may only continue in accordance with allowed Minimum Basic Operations.
  • Businesses that are remaining open must to increase cleaning and disinfection practices as well as adopting policies to clean and disinfect the workplace in the event of a positive COVID case in the workplace, and to develop protocol for when an employee may display symptoms of COVID or had contact with a person with COVID.
  • Businesses are encouraged to establish curbside pick-up practices.
  • People are urged not to travel out of state or to second homes or cabins.

If you have questions about the rights and obligations of your business under the updated Safer at Home order, contact Kramer, Elkins & Watt, LLC.

Stay tuned to KEW Tips for updates as they occur. In the meantime, stay safe!