Evers’ ‘safer at home’ order could last for one month

Releases more details on 'essential' businesses

Gov. Tony Evers
Gov. Tony Evers

Last updated on March 25th, 2020 at 02:16 pm

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers announced Tuesday that his “safer at home” mandate, which prohibits all nonessential travel in the state, goes into effect at 8 a.m. Wednesday and is slated to last through April 24. The order is intended to reduce the spread of the coronavirus and prevent it from overwhelming the state’s health care system, he said.

Under the order, residents are asked to remain in their homes, with allowances for them to “perform tasks essential to maintain health and safety,” such as picking up medication or seeing a doctor; get necessary services or supplies necessary for staying at home, such as food and pet food; care for a family member in another household; and care for “older adults, minors, dependents, people with disabilities or other vulnerable persons.”

The order will remain in effect until 8 a.m. April 24, or until another superseding order is issued, Evers said.

“I know the COVID-19 outbreak has been difficult and has disrupted the lives of people across our state,” Evers said. “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. Each and every one of us has to do our part to help slow the spread of COVID-19 so we can flatten the curve to ensure our doctors, nurses, and health care workers have the opportunity to do their important work. Let’s all do our part and work together.”

Employees at businesses deemed “essential” will be allowed to continue to travel to and from work, under the order. They include:

  • 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 to facilitate distance learning
  • Roles required for any business to maintain minimum basic operations, which includes security, and payroll
  • Law and safety, and essential government functions
  • “Critical trades,” including building and construction tradesmen
  • Mail, post, shipping, logistics, delivery and pick-up services
  • Transportation, including airlines, taxis, transportation network providers (such as Uber and Lyft), vehicle rental services, paratransit and other private, public and commercial transportation.
  • Manufacturing companies, distributors and supply chain companies producing and supplying “essential products and services.”
  • Hotels and motels
  • Restaurants may remain open for food take-out or delivery service only.

That list is not exhaustive, and each of those categories is defined in more detail in the order.

Businesses that are unsure about whether they are exempted from the order are encouraged to contact the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp.

Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce president Tim Sheehy is supporting the measure, saying it’s necessary to contain the spread of the virus.

Tim Sheehy
Tim Sheehy

“We are supportive of Governor Evers’ directive to raise Wisconsin’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Tim Sheehy. “We believe his response is appropriate. But at the same time, we recognize that this is economically challenging. Essential industries must continue to operate in support of health care, testing development, infrastructure, food and beverage, defense and critical path supply chains.

“We have a resilient and determined population. An innovative and adaptable manufacturing capacity. A world-class health care infrastructure. This decision by Governor Evers will add to our economic hardship, but it is also necessary to reduce the real health risks. We support this step so we can come through this crisis and come out stronger. The sooner we start, the quicker we get through to the other side.”

Medical College of Wisconsin president and chief executive officer Dr. John Raymond, who has spoken out about the potential shortage of ICU beds and critical supplies in the state if too many people get sick too quickly, also expressed support for the measure.

“Based on the science-based evidence, the Medical College of Wisconsin supports the issuance of a safer-at-home order that calls for more aggressive measures to mitigate the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19),” Raymond said. “With this action, Wisconsinites can collectively do their part to help ‘flatten the curve.'”

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Lauren Anderson
Lauren Anderson covers health care, nonprofits, education and insurance for BizTimes. Lauren previously reported on education for the Waukesha Freeman. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she studied journalism, history and African studies. In her free time, Lauren enjoys spending time with family and friends and seeing live music wherever she can.