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Wisconsin: State-by-State COVID-19 Guidance

WISCONSIN

February 25, 2021:

(Madison/Dane County): On February 25, 2021, The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) established a new process for allocating vaccines to Wisconsin’s teachers and childcare workers. While the state made these groups eligible to receive the vaccine beginning March 1, the number of doses allocated by the state to Dane County has delayed efforts to vaccinate these groups. Due to the limited availability of the vaccine, vaccinators are prioritizing individuals 65 and over, education staff, and childcare workers.

The Public Health Department of Madison & Dane County will provide information about the start of vaccinations to school districts and childcare facilities for their staff. Other groups that become eligible March 1 (including individuals enrolled in Medicaid long-term care programs, some public-facing essential workers, non-frontline essential healthcare personnel, and facility staff and residents in congregate living settings) are not expected to be vaccinated until April or May.

February 22, 2021:

(Madison): On February 19, 2021, the Public Health Office of Madison & Dane County announced that a private/public collaborative is helping to ensure teachers and school staff across Dane County receive the COVID-19 vaccine in the coming weeks. Under this partnership, local health care providers and public health entities are seeking to vaccinate school staff at Dane County’s Alliant Energy center during the month of March. This effort is expected to take 6-8 weeks and will include weekends when teachers and staff are not in the classroom. School administrators will be providing information to their staff when spots become available; school staff does not need to take action at this time.

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services has indicated that school staff are eligible March 1, but this is dependent on vaccine supply. Additional groups are tentatively eligible for the vaccine beginning March 1, but school staff have priority within this group. Public Health Madison & Dane County is actively working on plans to vaccinate childcare providers on the same timeline as K-12 school staff.

February 8, 2021:

On February 4, 2021, Governor Evers signed Executive Order #105 and Emergency Order #1 declaring a statewide public health emergency for 60 days, or until revoked by the Governor or by joint resolution by the Wisconsin State Legislation, and requiring face coverings in public places to protect the health and safety of Wisconsin residents.

Order #105 designated the Department of Health Services as the lead agency to respond to the public health emergency and directed the Department to take all necessary and appropriate measures to address the emergency (for example, to secure and maintain additional federal funding for FoodShare Wisconsin). The Order also activates the Wisconsin National Guard to assist in the state’s response to the public health emergency.

Order #1, which is set to expire on March 20, requires that every individual age five and older wear a face covering if:

  • The individual is indoors or in an enclosed space, other than at a private residence; and
  • Another person or persons who are not members of the household or living unit are present in the same room or enclosed space.

Children between the ages of 2 and 5 are encouraged to wear a mask when physical distancing is not possible.

Face Coverings are strongly recommended in all other settings, including outdoors, and specifically when it is not possible to maintain physical distancing. Individuals who are otherwise required to wear a face covering may remove the face covering in the following situations:

  • While eating or drinking.
  • When communicating with an individual who is deaf or hard of hearing and communication cannot be achieved through other means.
  • While obtaining a service that requires the temporary removal of the face covering, such as dental services.
  • While sleeping.
  • While swimming or on duty as a lifeguard.
  • While a single individual is actively speaking while giving a religious, political, media, educational, artistic, cultural, musical, or theatrical presentation for an audience and is at least 6 feet away from all other individuals.
  • When engaging in work where wearing a face covering would create a risk to the individual, as determined by government safety guidelines.
  • When necessary to confirm the individual’s identity, including when entering a bank, credit union, or other financial institution.
  • When federal or state law or regulations prohibit wearing a face covering.

In accordance with CDC guidance, the following individuals are exempt from the face covering requirement:

  • Children under the age of 2.
  • Individuals who have trouble breathing.
  • Individuals who are unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the face covering without assistance.
  • Individuals with medical conditions, intellectual or developmental disabilities, mental health conditions, or other sensory sensitivities that prevent the individual from wearing a face covering.
  • Incarcerated individuals (although the Wisconsin Department of Corrections shall continue to comply with COVID-19 protocols to ensure the health and safety of its staff and individuals in its care).

Local governments are strongly encouraged to continue or create COVID-19 protocols to ensure the health and safety of staff and individuals in their care.

(Madison): On February 5, 2021, the Public Health Office of Madison and Dane County updated its Coronavirus Dashboard to include “People Vaccinated.” At this time, 11.4 percent of Dane County has been vaccinated, totaling just over 62,500 individuals. State vaccination data is updated on Wednesdays and Fridays. Only eligible vaccine populations are being reported, and demographic data may be limited until more people become eligible for the vaccine.

On February 8, 2021, the Public Health Office of Madison and Dane County issued Emergency Order #13, which will go into effect on February 10, 2021 at 12:01 a.m. The Order seeks to prevent severe outcomes and death from COVID-19 by ordering the following “as necessary to prevent, suppress, and control the spread.” A summary of provisions updated through Order #13 include:

  • A gathering inside where food or drink is offered or provided is limited to 25 individuals. A gathering inside where food or drink is not offered or provided is limited to 50 individuals. Individuals must maintain six feet of physical distance, and face coverings are required.
  • A gathering outside where food or drink is offered or provided is limited to 100 individuals. A gathering outside where food or drink is not offered or provided is limited to 150 individuals. Individuals must maintain six feet of physical distance, and face coverings are required at gatherings of more than 50 individuals.
  • Masks must be worn outdoors while participating in a sporting event, including drills, practices, scrimmages, games or competitions, unless the sport is played individually or with physical distancing at all times. All sports must have a hygiene policy, cleaning policy, and protective measure policy.
  • Six feet physical distancing is required except when an individual is actively participating in the sport. Sports that cannot maintain physical distancing at all times are limited to 25 individuals indoors and 100 individuals outdoors, not including employees.
  • Face coverings are still required in enclosed buildings, while driving with people who are not part of your household, and outdoors at a restaurant or tavern. The types of face coverings allowed was updated to reflect new CDC recommendations.
  • Customers may still enter taverns only to order, pick-up, and pay for food or beverage (indoor seating is not allowed).
  • Temporary retail stores are now allowed to operate under the same requirements as permanent retail stores.
  • Certain adjustments have been made to childcare limits, but provisions for schools, continuing education and higher education institutions, industry-specific requirements, health care, public health, human service, infrastructure, manufacturing, government, and religious entities remain unchanged.
  • Businesses continue to be limited to 50 percent of approved building capacity and must have written cleaning and hygiene policies in place.

January 25, 2021:

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services announced starting January 25, 2021 adults over the age of 65 will be eligible for COVID-19 vaccinations. Eligible adults can receive the vaccine through their health care provider. At this time, other vaccine eligible populations include frontline health care personnel, residents in skilled nursing and long-term care facilities, police and fire personnel, and correctional staff. The approximate population of 65 and older Wisconsinites is 700,000. Wisconsin currently receives roughly 70,000 first-dose vaccines per week from the federal government.

January 20, 2021:

On January 19, Governor Evers issued Executive Order #104, which extended the public health emergency related to COVID-19 for an additional 60 days. Governor Evers also issued Emergency Order #1 which requires every individual over the age of five to wear a face covering when (a) the individual is indoors or in an enclosed space, other than at a private residence; and (b) another person or persons who are not members of individual’s household or living unit are present in the same room or enclosed space, with some exceptions. Face coverings are strongly recommended in all other settings, including outdoors when it is not possible to maintain physical distancing. Emergency Order #1 will expire on March 20, 2021.

January 11, 2021:

(Madison & Dane County): On January 11, the Public Health Officer of Madison and Dane County issued Emergency Order #12, effective January 13, 2021 at 12:01 a.m. The order mirrors Emergency Order #11, however, replaces each instance of “physical distancing” with “six (6) feet”. Order #12 remains in effect until February 10, 2021 at 12:01 a.m.

December 15, 2020:

(Madison & Dane): The Public Health Officer of Madison and Dance County issued Emergency Order #11, effective as of 12:01 a.m. on December 16, 2020. The is similar to Emergency Order #9, which limits a Mass Gathering inside to 10 individuals, and Mass Gatherings outside to 25 individuals, not including employees. Individuals must maintain physical distancing at these Mass Gatherings. Most businesses continue to be limited to 50% of approved capacity levels. The Order shall remain in effect until January 31, 2021 at 12:01 a.m.

December 14, 2020:

(Milwaukee): Milwaukee County revised Administrative Order 20-2v3, issuing Administrative Order 20-2v4 , effective as of 12:01 a.m. December 14, 2020. The order outlines that Milwaukee County will assume any employee or contractor that travels out of Wisconsin has been exposed to COVID-19 and is subject to full or adapted quarantine upon their return. Additionally, under the order, no out-of-state work travel is permitted unless expressly authorized in writing by a department head or designee.

December 1, 2020:

(Milwaukee): Milwaukee County revised Administrative Order 20-17-v2, issuing Administrative Order 20-17-v3, effective December 1, 2020 at 12:01 a.m. The order states that on December 7, 2020 or as soon as possible, Public Safety Officers (PSOs) at the Courthouse Complex., Vel Phillips Juvenile Justice Center, and Zoofari should administer the visitor questionnaire and screen all visitors, all indoor departments should post the visitor questionnaire and screen all visitors, and all other departments should post the visitor questionnaire. The order also states that any unit with persons in care or custody must be given a full health screening at the time of intake and before any transfer is made within the facility or to a new facility. The order reiterates the daily screening requirements of Milwaukee County employees, contractors and visitors as outlined in v2.

Milwaukee County also revised Administrative Order 20-7v3, issuing Administrative Order 20-7v4, Procedures for Responding to Individuals with Confirmed Cases of, Symptoms of, or Exposure to COVID-19, effective December 1, 2020 at 12:01 a.m. This order updates testing requirements, provides additional risk mitigation procedures, adds provisions for departments to undertake contact tracing among employees in cases of Exposure to COVID-19, and adds new return to work procedures for Exposed employees who have had, and recovered from, a Confirmed Case of COVID-19.

The order outlines that supervisors should identify employees and persons in care or custody who have had exposure to an individual with a confirmed case of COVID-19 in the 19-48 hours prior to symptoms through the time of a positive test. Such exposed employees should follow the procedures in Section IV and those in care or custody should be quarantined for 14 days.

The order also states that the Department Head may reduce quarantine requirements for Critical Infrastructure Workers that have screened as Red status when the employee has no symptoms of COVID-19. However, the Critical Infrastructure Worker is required to get a PCR test 5-7 days after their most recent exposure prior to returning to work.

November 23, 2020:

On November 20, 2020, Governor Evers issued Executive Order #95 declaring public health emergency for the state of Wisconsin. The state of emergency remains in effect for 60 days and expires January 19, 2021. Governor Evers also issued Emergency Order #1 requiring face coverings if indoors or in an enclosed space and if another person who is not a member of the individual’s household is present. A face covering is not required while eating or drinking, obtaining services that requires temporary removal of the face covering, when actively speaking to an audience (while remaining 6 feet from other individuals), and when necessary to confirm an individual’s identity. Children between 2-5 are encouraged but not required to wear a face covering, and individuals who have medical conditions are exempt from the requirement. This order is enforceable by civil forfeiture not more that $200. Emergency Order #1 remains in effect until January 19, 2021.

November 17, 2020:

(Madison & Dane): The Public Health Officer of Madison and Dane County issued Emergency Order #10 on November 17, 2020. Effective November 18, at 12:01 a.m.:

  • Masks must be worn by all individuals over the age of five unless subject to a specific exception.
  • All indoor gatherings, such as a concert, festival, meeting, performance, sporting event, or group exercise class are prohibited. An outdoor gathering is limited to 10 individuals, not including employees. Religious entities are exempt from these requirements for religious services and religious practices only.
  • Schools may continue to operate in person classes based on a temporary injunction issued by the Wisconsin Supreme Court. However, classrooms may not contain more than fifteen children if the children are age twelve or under, or more than fifteen children if age thirteen to seventeen.
  • Games or competitions are prohibited between teams for medium or high risk sports, such as those that involve close contact or without protective barriers. Games and competitions for low risk sports, such as individual sports or those with physical distancing, are allowed.
  • Generally, all businesses are subject to a 50% capacity limit. Restaurants are limited to 25% dine-in capacity and customers may enter taverns only for only for the purposes of ordering, pick-up, and payment of food or beverage or while in transit.

This order remains in effect until December 16, 2020 at 12:01 a.m.

November 11, 2020:

Governor Evers signed Executive Order #94 on November 10, which outlines actions Wisconsinites should take to protect others from COVID-19. The Order outlines the following precautions:

  • Stay home as much as possible and only make trips when necessary.
  • Avoid gatherings between individuals who are not in the same household, maintain physical distancing of at least 6 feet from others, wash hands often, wear a face covering, among other suggestions.
  • Individuals who are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms should stay home as much as possible, wear a face covering in public and get tested for COVID-19.
  • Vulnerable individuals should continue to stay home and isolate from others in the household who return to work or other public gatherings.
  • Homeless individuals are urged to seek shelter and individuals whose homes are unsafe are urged to leave their homes and stay at an alternative location.
  • Businesses are strongly encouraged to take steps to protect their staff and continue remote work when possible. If remote work is not possible, businesses are encouraged to require masks, limit the number of people on the premises, maintain social distancing of 6 ft, adopt policies to prevent staff from entering the workplace if they display COVID-19 symptoms, increase cleaning standards, and review and adopt measures in the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation guidelines on safe business practices.
  • Individuals are encouraged to stay home and avoid travel to second homes or residences.

(Milwaukee County): Milwaukee County issued Administrative Order 20-17-v1 on November 9, 2020 and 20-17-v2 on November 11, 2020, which defined circumstances when Milwaukee County employees, contractors and visitors should be screened for COVID-19 Symptoms and Exposures and established procedures for conducting screenings.

The Order requires all employees and contractors to screen daily for COVID-19 symptoms on days they are working in-person by completing the Screening Questionnaire and using the Screening Tool. No later than November 11, 2020, prior to starting in-person work, all employee Screening Questionnaires must be verified as “Green Status” – or a person with no symptoms. No later than November 23, 2020, all employees and contractors must complete and have verified that they do not have a fever (temperature of 100.40F or 380C or higher) as part of their health screening.

If an employee screens as “Red Status” – or an individual who shows COVID-19 symptoms or has had exposure to someone who has a confirmed case of COVID-19, they should stay home and notify their manager that they are experiencing symptoms (there is no requirement to share what symptoms they are experiencing). The employee should follow the instructions in Executive Order 20-7 based on if they have symptoms, exposure, or exposure with symptoms.

The Order outlines specific procedures for completing the Screening Questionnaire using the Screening Tool and notes that time spent completing the Screening Questionnaire is not compensable time. Finally, the order describes the procedures for temperature screening required after November 23, 2020, including a temperature screening kiosk, distributing digital thermometers to employees, or creating a screening location where a member of the management team screens employees.

October 19, 2020:

(Milwaukee): On October 19, Milwaukee County issued Version 3 of the Universal Face Mask Policy and Procedures Administrative Order 20-14v3 (the “Order”), which went into effect at 12:01 a.m. The Order revises the County’s face mask guidelines to align with updated guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (the “CDC”). The Order outlines expectations for Milwaukee County employees, contractors, vendors, volunteers, service users, visitors, and the general public entering or working in Milwaukee County facilities, or grounds. The revised Order updates Version 2 in specifying the following as “allowable” face masks:

  • Cloth face masks with two or more layers of breathable, washable fabric; or
  • Disposable face masks, such as non-medical grade paper or procedure masks.
  • FDA-approved face masks for sign language (ASL or LEP) interpreters (described in this section below).

On the other hand, the Order outlined specific face masks that are not recommended by the CDC and not allowed on County grounds. Such masks include:

  • Neck scarves or bandanas
  • Neck gaiters or buffs
  • Winter scarfs
  • Face shields
  • Masks with exhalation valves or vents
  • Masks with inappropriate writing or images.

However, the Order notes that face masks present difficulties to those who communicate through American Sign Language and provide for exceptions for ASL interpreters. Additional exceptions to the face covering requirement are provided in the order as well.

October 7, 2020:

Governor Evers announced on October 7, 2020, the Wisconsin State Fair Park Alternative Care Facility will begin accepting COVID-19 patients on October 14, 2020. The Alternative Care Facility will not accept walk-ins but will coordinate with healthcare systems to admit patients who have COVID-19 and need care, but not to the level provided at a hospital. This system is meant to transition patients who are less ill out of area hospitals, opening beds for patients with more severe symptoms. The Governor’s office stated that details regarding the use of the facility, as well as staffing levels, will be forthcoming in the next few days.

Wisconsin (Madison & Dane County):

After a review of Emergency Order #3, issued by Governor Evers on October 6, 2020, Public Health Madison & Dane County has determined that Emergency Order #9, issued September 1, 2020 is more restrictive than the most recent state order. Therefore, there are no changes needed to the current operation restrictions and all businesses and individuals must continue to follow Emergency Order #9.

October 6, 2020:

On October 6, 2020, Andrea Palm, Department of Health Services Secretary-designee, issued Emergency Order #3, under Gov. Evers’ direction. This order is effective October 8, at 8:00 a.m. and applies to any gatherings at locations that are open to the public, including stores, restaurants, and other public businesses, as well as ticketed events. Public gatherings, under the order, are limited to no more than 25% of the total occupancy limits for the room or building, and in the case of a public gathering at a private residence, limited to no more than 10 people. Places that are not open to the public, such as office spaces, invitation only events, and private residences that do not allow entrance to the public, are not limited by the order.

Additional exemptions include:

  • Child care settings
  • Placements for children in out-of-home care
  • 4K-12 schools
  • Institutions of higher education
  • Health Care and public health operations, such as hospitals and other medical facilities
  • Human services operations, including long-term care facilities
  • Public infrastructure operations
  • State and local government operations
  • Churches and other places of worship
  • Political rallies and other protected speech under the First Amendment
  • State facilities under the control of the Wisconsin Supreme Court and Wisconsin Legislature
  • Federal facilities under the control of the federal government
  • Activities by Tribal members within boundaries of Tribal reservations

The order remains in effect until November 6, 2020.

September 22, 2020:

On September 22, 2020, Governor Evers declared a new public health emergency in Executive Order #90, as well as reissued Emergency Order #1, requiring face coverings for an additional 60 days. The mask mandate is essentially identical to the Emergency order that went into effect on August, 1, 2020, and requires every individual, age five or older, to wear a face covering in an enclosed space (other than a private residence) while in the presence of others who are not members of the individual’s household. The public health emergency and mask mandate are to remain in effect until November 21, 2020.

September 21, 2020:

(Milwaukee): Milwaukee County issued Administrative Order 20-7v3, effective 12:01 a.m. on September 21, 2020 at 12:01 a.m., outlining Procedures for Responding to Confirmed COVID-19 Cases, Symptomatic Individuals, and Individuals Exposed through Close Contacts (the “Procedures”). The Procedures apply to all Milwaukee County employees, contractors, and vendors, but specifically excludes Health Care Workers or Critical Infrastructure Workers.

The order outlines various scenarios and procedures for County employees to follow, including:

  • What to do when an employee, contractor, or recent visitor has a Confirmed Case of COVID-19;
  • What to do when an employee or contractor calls in sick with COVID-19 symptoms, reports to work with symptoms, or develops symptoms while at work, or when a visitor to a County location exhibits symptoms while at a County location;
  • What to do when an employee or contractor has Close Contact with a person with a Confirmed Case of COVID-19;
  • What to do when a Critical Infrastructure employee or contractor has Close Contact with a person with a Confirmed Case of COVID-19; and
  • Self-Isolation and Self-Quarantine Guidance.

Generally, the order states that the local public health authority will conduct contact tracing for individuals testing positive for COVID-19 and will give quarantine orders to Close Contacts when an employee, contractor, or recent visitor has a Confirmed Case of COVID-19. The order states that employees or visitors to a county facility who have COVID-19 symptoms should return home and follow the guidelines outlined in Section III.A. For employees and contractors that have had Close Contact with a Confirmed Case, the order directs the employee or contractor not to report to work, however there are exceptions to this directive for Critical Infrastructure services. The order also outlines supervisor actions and return to work policies for each of the above scenarios. Finally, the order gives instructions and guidelines for those who are subject to isolation and quarantine.

September 14, 2020:

(Madison and Dane County): On September 10, 2020, the Supreme Court of Wisconsin entered a temporary injunction blocking the enactment of Emergency Order #9, which permitted in-person student instruction for kindergarten through second grade, and students in any grade with a disability and/or an Individualized Education Program, but limited grades third though twelfth to virtual classes. The temporary injunction allows all schools across the county, including private schools, to reopen immediately. The court ordered the petitioners to submit briefs and will be scheduling oral arguments.

September 2, 2020:

(Dane County and Madison): On September 1, 2020, the Public Health Officer of Dane County and Madison issued Emergency Order #9 Amendment, which goes into effect on September 2, at 12:01 a.m. This Order outlines statistics which demonstrate that school-aged children contract COVID-19 at lower rates than older populations. Based on this data, the Public Health Office is permitting in-person student instruction for grades kindergarten through second grade, as well as students in any grade with a disability and/or an Individualized Education Program. However, grades third though twelfth are still required to conduct classes virtually. This order continues the limitations on taverns and mass gatherings and requirements for face coverings as outlined in Emergency Order 8, which went into effect on July 13, 2020. Both orders remain in effect until further notice.

August 31, 2020:

(Milwaukee): On August 28, 2020, the City of Milwaukee Health Department (MHD) issued an additional update on Order #4.1, which reports a statistically significant decline in COVID-19 cases and a decline in the positivity rate to 5%. Based on this update, there will be a hold in Phase 4.1, which will be reassessed on September 4th, 2020. The MKE Cares mask ordinance remains in effect, as well as the requirement for restaurants and bars to submit a safety plan and Risk Assessment Tool to continue offering in person dining services. All plans must be submitted to the MHD by 11:59 p.m. on September 15, 2020. Additionally, there is a new school resource webpage that provides a variety of for schools and businesses resources.

August 17, 2020:

(Milwaukee): On August 14, 2020, the City of Milwaukee Health Department issued an update on Order #4.1, which announces new guidance for restaurants and bars in Milwaukee. Under the update, restaurants and bars must submit a safety plan and Risk Assessment tool to continue offering in person dining services. All plans must be submitted to the Health Department by 11:59 p.m. on September 15, 2020. The plans will help ensure that workplace policies are in place to protect employee health and ensure infection control and physical distancing. Once a business’ plan has been approved, it will receive a certificate or seal from the Milwaukee Health Department indicating that it may operate safely.

August 3, 2020:

Governor Evers signed Emergency Executive Order 1, which requires individuals to wear a face covering in the State of Wisconsin. The new order requires than any person five years or older wear a face covering in any indoor space open to the public. It strongly recommends, but does not require, that a face covering be worn while outdoors. The following individuals are exempt from the order:

  • Anyone with a medical condition or disability that prevents him or her from wearing a face covering;
  • Anyone who is eating or drinking;
  • Anyone who is communicating with someone who is deaf or has a hearing impairment; and
  • Anyone obtaining a service that requires temporary removal of the face covering, such as dental services.

The order goes into effect on August 1, 2020 and will remain in effect until September 28, 2020.

July 27, 2020:

(Dane County): The Dane County Public Health Department issued Emergency Order 8, which establishes safety procedures for individuals and businesses in Dane County to prevent the spread of COVID-19. It requires:

  • All individuals five years or older to wear a face covering while in a building open to the public or while using public transportation, including taxis and ride-sharing vehicles;
  • No more than 10 people at any indoor gathering and no more than 25 people at any outdoor gathering;
  • All businesses to limit their capacity to 50% of their approved capacity levels; and
  • All businesses to develop and implement employee hygiene procedures and cleaning policies.

The face covering requirement does not apply to individuals with a medical condition or disability that prevents them from wearing a face covering. The order went into effect on July 13, 2020 and will remain in effect until further notice.

July 23, 2020:

(Milwaukee): Milwaukee Mayor Barrett signed into law a mandatory mask ordinance for the city of Milwaukee. The ordinance, which went into effect on Thursday, July 16, 2020 requires individuals to wear a face covering in any building open to the public. It also requires that a face covering be worn while outdoors when social distancing is not possible. The ordinance applies to any person 3 years old or older, with the following exceptions:

  • Anyone with a medical condition that prevents him or her from wearing a face covering;
  • Anyone communicating with an individual who has a hearing impairment;
  • Anyone in a setting where it is not feasible to wear a face covering, such as receiving dental services or consuming food or drink; or
  • Anyone whose religious beliefs prevent them from wearing a face covering.

The ordinance requires the owner or operator of any building open to the public ensure that all patrons comply with the order. Owners and operators can be charged a fine for each violation of the ordinance within their building, up to a maximum of $500.

May 14, 2020:

The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled that Wisconsin’s Safer at Home Order, Emergency Order #28 is unenforceable. As a result of the Court’s decision, Wisconsin’s Safer at Home Order is immediately unenforceable except as to the closure of public and private k-12 schools for the remainder of the school year. Husch Blackwell’s more in-depth analysis of the Court’s decision can be found here. There is currently no state-wide order in effect, but certain local municipalities have implemented their own related orders.

May 11, 2020:

Andrea Palm, Secretary-designee of the Department of Health Services signed Emergency Order #36 Interim Order to Turn the Dial, which is effective immediately. The previous Safer at Home and Badger Bounce Back Orders (Orders #28, #31, and #34) all remain in effect and are modified only be the specific additions in this order.

Specifically, Emergency Order #36 expands the definition of Minimum Basic Operations, as defined under Emergency Order #28, to include in-person retail. As such, any standalone or strip mall-based retail stores with their own, individual entrances my offer in-person shopping for up to five customers at a time. Stores relying exclusively on mall or interconnect passage entrances may not offer in-person retail under this section. All stores must still comply with the social distancing and other requirements under Emergency Order #28.

Additionally, Emergency Order #36 allows drive-in movie theatres to open with certain restrictions.

The Wisconsin Economic Development Center, in partnership with the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, and the Wisconsin Department of Tourism released general and industry specific guidance to help businesses reopen safely.

April 27, 2020:

Andrea Palm, Department of Health Services Secretary-designee, signed Emergency Order #34 which reduces restrictions on certain businesses and sectors. Specifically, the Order adds three activities to the definition of Minimum Basic Operations, as previously defined by Section 14 of Emergency Order #28 Safer at Home Order. These activities include:

  • Curb-side drop-off of goods or animals for the purposes of having those goods or animals serviced, repaired, or cared for by the business.
  • Outdoor recreational rentals, including boats, kayaks, canoes, paddle boats, golf carts, snowmobiles, and ATVs.
  • Entirely automatic car washes and self-service car washes may open for service.

April 20, 2020:

Secretary-designee of the Department of Health Services, Andrea Palm issued Emergency Order 31, the Badger Bounce Back plan. The plan outlines a phase approach to re-opening the state’s economy and society, with each phase being incrementally less restrictive on businesses and individuals. The Phases are as follows:

  1. Safer at Home: Currently in effect, as established in Emergency Orders #12 and #28.
  2. Phase One: Allowing mass gatherings of up to 10 people; restaurants opening with social distancing requirements, removal of certain restrictions including retail for Essential Businesses and Operations; additional operations for non-essential businesses; and K-12 schools resuming in-person operations.
  3. Phase Two: Allowing mass gatherings of up to 50 people; bars reopening with social distancing requirements; non-essential businesses resuming operations with social distancing requirements; and post-secondary education institutions may resume operation.
  4. Phase Three: All business activity and mass gatherings will resume, with minimal protective and preventative measures in place.

The state must show progress or advancement in 5 specific areas to progress to a new Phase. At this point in time, the Safer at Home Order still remains in effect.

April 16, 2020:

Governor Evers signed a new Safer at Home Order, Emergency Order 28. The new Order supersedes the previous Safer at Home Order, effective Friday April 24, 2020 at 8:00am, and remaining effective until May 26, 2020 at 8:00am. The Order maintains the same restriction on individuals to stay at home or in their place of residence, except to perform Essential Activities, Essential Governmental Functions, operate Essential Businesses and Operations or perform non-essential Minimum Basic Operations, Essential Travel and certain Special Situations.

April 6, 2020:

Governor Evers also passed Emergency Order 20 and Emergency Order 21. Both orders expand on the administrative rule changes related to health professionals in Wisconsin, including preventing temporary licenses, and licenses that are soon to expire, from expiring during the COVID-19 emergency.

March 30, 2020:

Governor Evers signed Emergency Order 16, which suspended certain administrative rules relating to Health Care Providers. Out of state providers with valid and current licenses issued by another state may practice under that license in Wisconsin without obtaining a temporary or Wisconsin license. Temporary licenses, as defined by the Order, will be extended and remain valid for 30 days after the conclusion of the COVID-19 emergency. Additionally, administrative rule governing nurses and physician’s assistants have been suspended. This Order will remain in effect under the COVID-19 emergency is over.

Governor Evers also signed Emergency Order 15, which temporarily bans landlords from serving any notice terminating a tenancy for failure to pay rent. If a failure to commence eviction proceedings could result in an imminent threat of serious physical harm to another person, Landlords may serve notice terminating a tenancy so long as the notice is accompanied by an affidavit attesting to the imminent threat. This Order shall remain in effect for 60 days.

March 24, 2020: 

Governor Evers signed Executive Order #12 which directs all individuals present in the State of Wisconsin to stay at home or at their place of residence, except for specific outlined exceptions. All non-essential businesses and operations are required to cease, except for Minimum Basic operations, which are defined as the minimum necessary activities to maintain the value of the business’s inventory, preserve the condition of the business’s physical plant and equipment, ensure security, process payroll and employee benefits, and other related functions.

Essential Businesses and Operations are allowed to continue operations but must observe Social Distancing Requirements and, to the maximum extent possible, use technology to avoid meeting in person. Essential Businesses and Operations are defined according to the federal CISA guidance as well as additional businesses including grocery and medicine stores, child care services, and gas stations, among others.

March 23, 2020:

Governor Evers announced, today, that he plans on signing an executive order effective tomorrow, March 24, 2020, calling for all residents to stay at home and closing all non-essential businesses.

March 17, 2020:

Governor Evers signed Emergency Order #5 which prohibits mass gatherings of 10 people or more, indefinitely, and includes gatherings at theatres, museums, health and fitness centers, places of worship, among others. Specific industries such as transportation, government, and childcare are exempt from the ban. All bars and restaurants are closed, but allowed to provide delivery and take out options. There is nothing in the order that prevents other businesses from operating as usual, although work-from-home procedures and telecommunication are encouraged.

Governor Evers spoke further about COVID-19 and community spread in a press conference on March 17, 2020.

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