MADISON, Wis. (FOX 9) - Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers on Tuesday directed the Department of Health Services to issue a “Safer at Home” order that prohibits all nonessential travel in the state, with some exceptions.
The order, which affects more than 5 million people, goes into effect at 8 a.m. Wednesday, March 25 and will remain in effect until April 24 or until a superseding order is issued. That means schools, bars, restaurants, salons, museums, fitness centers and other businesses that have already been closed for the last week will remain closed until then.
"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,” Evers said in a statement.
Currently, Wisconsin has about 200 more confirmed cases of COVID-19 compared to Minnesota, including five deaths.
Wisconsin residents do not need special permission to leave their homes, but they must comply with the order regarding when it is permissible to leave home, according to a press release from the governor’s office.
Under this order, Wisconsin residents are able 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.
- Care for older adults, minors, dependents, people with disabilities or other vulnerable persons.
- Participate in outdoor activities, such as visiting public and state parks, walking, biking, hiking or running, as long as they comply with social distancing requirements. Playgrounds are closed.
Businesses allowed to operate under the Safer at Home order include, but are not limited to:
- 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
- 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
- Law and safety, and essential government functions will continue under the recommended action.
Under the order, essential businesses that remain open must ensure employees and customers are maintaining six-foot social distancing, including when customers are standing in line.
The Wisconsin Department of Health Services recommends the public follow simple steps to prevent illness and avoid exposure to the virus including:
- Avoid social gatherings with people of all ages (including playdates and sleepovers, parties, large family dinners, visitors in your home, non-essential workers in your house)
- Frequent and thorough hand washing with soap and water
- Covering coughs and sneezes
- Avoiding touching your face
- Staying home
Wisconsin is now part of a growing list of at least 16 states with orders to shelter-in-place, including California and New York as well as smaller states like Connecticut and Delaware.