Wisconsin’s Safer At Home Order – What Does it Mean for Your Business?

March 24, 2020

The Wisconsin Safer At Home Order is more complicated than it appears in news releases. The Order creates a clear mandate for all residents to stay at home and is effective starting at 8 a.m. Wednesday, March 25th until 8 a.m., April 24th. However, it creates a number of broad and not well-defined exceptions.

Stay at Home

At its core, the Order requires all individuals living in Wisconsin to stay at home.

Exceptions

The Order creates limited exceptions that allow all people to leave their homes for the following functions:

  1. Essential Activities;
  2. Essential Governmental Function;
  3. Essential Businesses and Operations;
  4. Minimum Basic Operations;
  5. Essential Travel;
  6. Special Situations.

For businesses, there are two key sections to review. The Essential Businesses and Operations exception and the Essential Infrastructure provision.

Essential Businesses and Operations

People can leave their homes to perform work providing products and services at Essential Businesses and Operations.

The Essential Businesses and Operations provision covers stores, food, alcohol, financial institutions and services, hardware and supplies stores, critical trades, transportation, professional services (legal, accounting, insurance, real estate, appraisal, home inspection, and title services), manufacturing, distribution and supply chain for critical products and industries, hotels,

The complete list of Essential Businesses and Operations appears at the end of this article.

NOTE: All entities that are Essential Businesses and Operations shall meet Social Distancing Requirements between all individuals on the premises to the extent possible. Essential Businesses and Operations shall, to the greatest extent possible, use technology to avoid meeting in person, including virtual meetings, teleconferences, and remote work from home.

Essential Infrastructure

This exception will allow people to leave home to provide any services and products for Essential Infrastructure.  Essential Infrastructure covers a broad spectrum of work (here is a link to the order). The following is a summary and not the complete list.

  • Food production, distribution, fulfillment centers, storage facilities, etc.
  • Construction (including construction for public health emergency, hospital construction, long-term care facilities, public works construction, school construction, essential business construction, and housing construction)
  • Building management and maintenance
  • Airport operations
  • Utilities operations
  • Roads, highways, public transportation
  • Telecommunication systems

The changes to the law are fluid and fast movingClick here to see the exact Order with fuller explanations.  We encourage you to continue to check back for updates.

Full List of Section 13 Essential Businesses and Operations[1]

All entities described in this section shall meet Social Distancing Requirements between all individuals on the premises to the extent possible. Essential Businesses and Operations shall, to the greatest extent possible, use technology to avoid meeting in person, including virtual meetings, teleconference, and remote work (i.e., work from home). For the purposes of this Order, Essential Businesses and Operations means Healthcare and Public Health Operations, Human Services Operations, Essential Infrastructure, and Essential Governmental Functions, and the following:

  1. CISA List. Any business or worker identified in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), Memorandum on Identification of Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers During COVID-19 Response, updated March 23, 2020, and any subsequent versions of this Memorandum.
  2. Stores that sell groceries and medicine. Grocery stores, bakeries, pharmacies, farm and produce stands, supermarkets, food banks and food pantries, convenience stores, and other establishments engaged in the retail sale of groceries, canned food, dry goods, frozen foods, fresh fruits and vegetables, pet supply, fresh meats, fish, poultry, prepared food, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, and any other household consumer products (such as cleaning and personal care products). Such establishments shall:
    1. Close all seating intended for consuming food.
    2. Cease any self-service operations of salad bars, beverage stations, and buffets.
    3. Except for grocery stores, prohibit customers from self-dispensing all unpackaged food.
    4. Abide by Social Distancing Requirements. This section should not be interpreted to provide an exemption for businesses engaged in the sale of food or beverage ancillary to its primary purpose, such as those businesses required to close under Section 4 who also may engage in some food or beverage sales.
  3. Food and beverage production, transport, and agriculture. Food and beverage manufacturing, production, processing, transportation, and cultivation; farming, livestock, fishing, baking, and other production agriculture, including cultivation, marketing, production, and distribution of animals and goods for consumption; businesses that provide food, shelter, and other necessities of life for animals, including animal shelters, boarding, rescues, kennels, and adopting facilities; farm and agriculture equipment, supplies, and repair services.
  4. Restaurants. Restaurants shall close, except as follows:
    1. Restaurants may remain open for food take-out or delivery service only.
    2. Alcohol sales must comply with section 13.e. below.
    3. Customers may enter the above establishments only for the purpose of ordering, pick up, and paying for food or beverage or both.
    4. No seating may be provided.
    5. Food and drink may not be consumed on premises, either indoors or outdoors.
    6. Establishments shall meet Social Distancing Requirements between all individuals on the premises to the extent possible.
    7. Cease any self-service operations of salad bars, beverage stations, and buffets.
    8. Customers are prohibited from self-dispensing any unpackaged food or beverage.
  5. Bars. This includes breweries, brewpubs, wineries, distilleries, and alcohol beverage retailers. Such establishments shall close, except as follows:
    1. Carryout sales of alcohol beverages and food are allowed, if permitted by state law and municipal ordinance.
    2. Delivery of alcohol beverages to retail customers is prohibited.
    3. Wineries holding direct wine shippers’ permits may make deliveries of wine in accordance with their permit.
    4. Customers may enter the above establishments only for the purpose of ordering, pick up, and paying for food or beverage or both.
    5. No seating may be provided.
    6. Food and drink may not be consumed on premises, either indoors or outdoors.
    7. Establishments shall meet Social Distancing Requirements between all individuals on the premises to the extent possible.
    8. Self-service operations of salad bars, beverage stations, and buffets are prohibited.
    9. Customers are prohibited from self-dispensing any unpackaged food or beverage.
  6. Child care settings. Secretary-designee Andrea Palm’s Emergency Order #6 remains in effect, with the following amendments:
    1. Child care settings shall prioritize care for families as follows: 1. Tier 1: employees, contractors, and other support staff working in health care; 2. Tier 2: employees, contractors, and other staff in vital areas including but not limited to military; long term care; residential care; pharmacies; child care; child welfare; government operations; public safety and critical infrastructure such as sanitation, transportation, utilities, telecommunications; grocery and food services; supply chain operations; and other sectors as determined by the Secretary of the Department of Children and Families.
    2. Child care settings include all licensed and certified child care providers who may provide care for any age or ages of children up to 13 years of age, unless specially licensed for children with disabilities up to 19 years of age.
  7. Organizations that provide charitable and social services. Businesses and religious and secular nonprofit organizations, including prevocational group supportive employment, food banks and food pantries, when providing food, shelter, and social services, and other necessities of life for economically disadvantaged or otherwise needy individuals, individuals who need assistance as a result of this public health emergency, and people with disabilities.
  8. Weddings, funerals, and religious entities. Religious facilities, entities, groups, and gatherings, and weddings and funerals, except that any gathering shall include fewer than 10 people in a room or confined space at a time and individuals shall adhere to Social Distancing Requirements as much as possible.
  9. Funeral establishments. Funeral establishments, as defined in Wis. Stat. § 445.01(6), except that any gathering shall include fewer than 10 people in a room or confined space at a time and individuals shall adhere to Social Distancing Requirements as much as possible.
  10. Media. Newspapers, television, radio, and other media services.
  11. Gas stations and businesses needed for transportation. Gas stations; auto and motorcycle supply, repair and sales; boat supply, repair, and sales; and bicycle supply, repair, and sales.
  12. Financial institutions and services. Banks, credit unions, and other depository or lending institutions; licensed financial service providers; insurance services; personnel necessary to perform essential functions at broker dealers and investment advisor offices.
  13. Hardware and supplies stores. Hardware stores and businesses that sell electrical, plumbing, heating, and construction material.
  14. Critical trades. Building and Construction Tradesmen and Tradeswomen, and other trades including but not limited to plumbers, electricians, carpenters, laborers, sheet metal, iron workers, masonry, pipe trades, fabricators, finishers, exterminators, pesticide application, cleaning and janitorial staff for commercial and governmental properties, security staff, operating engineers, HVAC, painting, moving and relocation services, forestry and arborists, and other service providers who provide services that are necessary to maintaining the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences, Essential Activities, Essential Governmental Functions, and Essential Businesses and Operations.
  15. Mail, post, shipping, logistics, delivery, and pick-up services. Post offices and other businesses that provide shipping and delivery services, and businesses that ship or 12 deliver groceries, food, beverages, goods or services to end users or through commercial channels.
  16. Laundry services. Laundromats, dry cleaners, industrial laundry services, and laundry service providers.
  17. Supplies to work from home. Businesses that sell, manufacture, or supply products needed for people to work from home.
  18. Supplies for Essential Businesses and Operations and Essential Governmental Functions. Businesses that sell, manufacture, or supply other Essential Businesses and Operations and Essential Governmental Functions with the support or supplies necessary to operate, including computers; audio and video electronics; household appliances; IT and telecommunication equipment; hardware; paint; flat glass; electrical, plumbing, and heating materials; construction materials and equipment; sanitary equipment; personal hygiene products; food, food additives, ingredients, and components; medical and orthopedic equipment; firearm and ammunition suppliers and retailers for purposes of safety and security; optics and photography equipment; diagnostic; food and beverages; chemicals; paper and paper products; soaps and detergents.
  19. Transportation. Airlines, taxis, transportation network providers (such as Uber and Lyft), vehicle rental services, paratransit, and other private, public, and commercial transportation and logistics providers necessary for Essential Activities and other purposes expressly authorized in this Order.
  20. Home-based care and services. Home-based care for seniors, adults, children, and/ or people with disabilities, substance use disorders, and/ or mental illness, including caregivers or nannies who may travel to the child’s home to provide care, and other in-home services including meal delivery.
  21. Professional services. Professional services, such as legal or accounting services, insurance services, real estate services (including appraisal, home inspection, and title services). These services shall, to the greatest extent possible, use technology to avoid meeting in person, including virtual meetings, teleconference, and remote work (i.e., work from home).
  22. Manufacture, distribution, and supply chain for critical products and industries. Manufacturing companies, distributors, and supply chain companies producing and supplying essential products and services in and for industries such as pharmaceutical, technology, biotechnology, healthcare, chemicals and sanitation, waste pickup and disposal, agriculture, food and beverage, transportation, energy, steel and steel products, petroleum and fuel, mining, construction, national defense, communications, and products used by other Essential Governmental Functions and Essential Businesses and Operations.
  23. Critical labor union functions. Essential activities include the administration of health and welfare funds and personnel checking on the well-being and safety of members providing services in Essential Business and Operations, provided the checks are done by telephone or remotely where possible.
  24. Hotels and motels. Hotels and motels, except that such establishments shall:
    1. Comply with requirements of 12.b, 12.d. and 12.e.
    2. Close swimming pools, hot tubs, and exercise facilities.
    3. Prohibit guests from congregating in lobbies or other common areas, including providing adequate space to adhere to Social Distancing Requirements while queuing for front desk services.
  25. Higher educational institutions. Higher educational institutions, for purposes of facilitating distance learning, performing critical research, or performing essential functions as determined by the institution.
  26. WEDC designated businesses. In the exceptional circumstance that a business is not listed in this Order as an Essential Business or Operations but believes that it should be included in that designation, the business should consult the information page on the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) website, here: www.wedc.org/essentialbusiness. If a business still believes that it does not fall within the meaning of Essential Businesses and Operations, it may apply to the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) using the provided form requesting designation as such.

[1] Emergency Order #12, Safer at Home Order, sec. 13 (Mar. 24, 2020)

For more information about "Wisconsin’s Safer At Home Order – What Does it Mean for Your Business?," contact Gregory C. Collins at gcollins@axley.com or 608.283.6749 or Robert C. Procter at rprocter@axley.com or 608.283.6762.