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Wisconsin’s “Safer at Home” Order is Extended and Modified by Emergency Order #28

On April 16, 2020, Wisconsin Secretary-designee of the Department of Health Services, Andrea Palm, issued Emergency Order #28 at the direction of Governor Tony Evers.  This new Order extends Wisconsin’s “Safer at Home” Order until 8:00 a.m. on May 26, 2020, or until a superseding order is issued, and modifies the original order. The original Safer at Home Order issued on March 25, Emergency Order #12, remains in effect until April 24, 2020.

The new Order goes into effect at 8:00 a.m. on Friday, April 24 and remains in effect through 8:00 a.m. on May 26, 2020.  In general, the Order maintains the prohibitions against public and private gatherings and the Essential Business and Operations designations that were contained in the original Order.  But, the new Order does contain the following modifications:

  • Essential Business and Operations Clarification. The Order clarifies that Essential Businesses (defined in the Order) may only continue to operate those portions of their businesses that are necessary for the Essential Business or Governmental Operations. The Order states, “Any business or operation that is considered an Essential Business or Operation under this section may only perform those business operations which are necessary for the Essential Business and Operations or Essential Governmental Functions to which they are supplying goods or services. Any non-essential goods or services may only continue as Minimum Basic Operations.” Section 13.r.
  • Enhanced Safety Requirements for all Essential Businesses and Operations. The Order requires compliance with additional safety requirements for all Essential Businesses and Operations. Essential Businesses and Operations shall:
    • To the greatest extent feasible, comply with Social Distancing Requirements as defined in this Order between all individuals on the premises, including but not limited to employees, customers, and members of the public.
    • Restrict the number of workers present on premises to no more than is strictly necessary to perform the essential operation.
    • Increase standards of facility cleaning and disinfection to limit worker and patron exposure to COVID-19, as well as adopting protocols to clean and disinfect in the event of a positive COVID-19 case in the workplace.
    • Adopt policies to prevent workers from entering the premises if they display respiratory symptoms or have had contact with a person with a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19. Section 2.b.ii.
  • Special Requirements for Essential Businesses Open for In-Person Sales or Retail. The Order provides that Essential Businesses or Operations that remain open for in-person sales, including retail stores, shall:
    • Consider establishing curbside pick-up to reduce in-store traffic and mitigate outdoor lines.
    • For stores with less than 50,000 square feet of customer floor space, limit the number of people in the store (including employees) to 25% of the total occupancy limits established by the local municipality.
    • For stores of more than 50,000 square feet: a. Limit the number of customers in the store at one time (excluding employees) to 4 people per 1,000 square feet of customer floor space. b. Offer at least two hours per week of dedicated shopping time for vulnerable populations, which for purposes of this Order are people over 60, pregnant women, and those with chronic conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and lung disease.
    • Establish lines to regulate entry in accordance with occupancy restrictions in sections 2.b.iii.2. and 2.b.iii.3., with markings for patrons to enable them to stand at least six feet apart from one another while waiting. Stores should also use alternatives to lines, including allowing customers to wait in their cars for a text message or phone call and scheduling pick-ups or entries to the store. Section 2.b.iii.
  • Schools Closed for Remainder of School Year. Public and private K-12 schools shall remain closed for pupil instruction and extracurricular activities for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year. Schools may continue to facilitate distance learning or virtual learning. Schools may continue to be used for Essential Government Functions and food distribution. Section 4.a.
  • Libraries May Offer Curbside Services. Public libraries shall remain closed for all in-person services, except that they may provide on-line services and programming, curb-side pick-up of books and other library materials, and food distribution. Section 4.b.
  • Golf Courses May Open with Restrictions. Public and private golf courses may open, with restrictions including use of golf carts is prohibited, Social Distancing Requirements must be observed, all tee times and payments must be made in advance online or by phone, and clubhouses and pro shops must remain closed. Driving ranges and miniature golf must remain closed. Section 4.c.i.
  • Public Parks Closed at Local Discretion.Public parks and open space may be closed at the discretion of the local health officials if certain conditions are met.(See Order for specifics.) Section 4.c.ii.

About the Authors

Jordan Lamb is an administrative and regulatory attorney and the Chair of DeWitt’s Government Relations Practice Group. Her law practice is enhanced by her love of all things written and her strong public speaking skills. Her ability to connect with others through writing and public speaking provides the platform for her regulatory practice, which is focused on government relations and environmental law.

She can be reached by email at or by phone at 608-252-9358.

Wesley Webendorfer is an attorney practicing out of our Madison office. He is a member of the Government Relations, Environmental and Litigation practice groups. Contact Wes by email or by phone at (608) 252-9368.

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