Safer-at-Home Order: Remix Edition

By: Attorney Samuel D. Bach-Hanson – Weld Riley, S.C.
On April 16, 2020, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (“DHS”), at the direction of Governor Tony Evers, issued a new Safer at Home Order, Emergency Order #28 (the “New Order”). This Order goes into effect on April 24, when Emergency Order #12 (the “Original Order”) expires, and will be effective through Tuesday, May 26, 2020.

While the Order is similar to Emergency Order #12, there are some key differences that provide additional restrictions, the loosening of restrictions, and clarifications. Schools will remain closed through the 2019-2020 school year and public libraries must now remain closed except for online services, curb-side pick-up, essential government functions, and food distribution. The Order creates additional criteria essential businesses and operations must follow to be in compliance with “safe business practice” requirements. In addition to what was included in the Original Order, essential businesses and operations must now:

  • Restrict the number of workers present on the premises to no more than is strictly necessary to perform the essential operation.
  • Increase standards of facility cleaning and disinfection, as well as adopt 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.

Further restrictions were placed on essential businesses and operations that remain open for in-person sales, including:

  • Consider establishing curbside pick-up to reduce in-store traffic and mitigate outdoor lines.
  • Establish lines to regulate entry in accordance with the Order.
  • For stores with less than 50,000 square feet of customer floor space:
    • Limit the number of people in the store to twenty-five (25) percent of the total occupancy limits establish by local rule.
  • For stores with more than 50,000 square feet:
    • Limit entry to four customers per 1,000 square feet of customer floor space.
    • Offer at least two hours per week of dedicated shopping time for vulnerable populations.

The New Order also loosened some of the restrictions in place from the Original Order. Public and private golf courses may now open, so long as they follow certain restrictions. Additionally, public parks and open space are open, but may be closed at the discretion of local health officials.

The Order expands the definition of “minimum basic operations.” In addition to what was in the Original Order, the definition now includes:

  • Non-essential businesses and operation must determine which workers are necessary to conduct minimum basic operations and inform such workers of that designation.
  • The fulfillment of nonessential deliveries, mailing parcels, or receiving parcels if all of the operations are performed by one person in a room or confined space, including a vehicle.
  • The curb-side pick-up of goods, if all operations are performed by one person in a room or confined space, including a vehicle, and the goods are purchased online or over the phone, are prepackaged, and no signature is required.
  • Arts and craft stores may offer curb-side pick-up, as described above, and in addition have the minimum additional staff necessary to fill orders for materials for making personal protective equipment.
  • Aesthetic or optional exterior work, including operational exterior residential constructions and lawn care, if all operations are performed by one person in a room or confined space, including a vehicle.

Lastly, the New Order specifically exempts from the restrictions of the order members of federally recognized tribal nations in Wisconsin within the boundaries of their tribal reservations and federal land held in trust.

While the New Order has some differences and provides more details than were in the Original Order, the additions are mostly practices essential businesses and operations were already utilizing to comply with the first Safer at Home Order.