MADISON — Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers on Tuesday, March 24, directed the state health department to issue an order to prohibit nonessential travel outside the home and temporarily close some businesses to help stop the spread of the respiratory illness COVID-19.

The "Safer at Home" order takes effect 8 a.m. Wednesday, March 25, and goes until 8 a.m. Friday, April 24 unless ended sooner by executive order, according to a news release Tuesday.

Residents and business are being asked to comply with the restrictions, though no special permission or documentation will be needed to leave the home for approved reasons or operate an essential business. The full text of the order is available here (link is external).

“I know the COVID-19 outbreak has been difficult and has disrupted the lives of people across our state. 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. “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’sall do our part and work together.”

What residents are allowed to do

  • 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; and
  • Care for older adults, minors, dependents, people with disabilities or other vulnerable persons.

What residents should be doing

  • 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; and
  • Staying home.

What businesses can remain open

  • 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, for the purposes of facilitating distance learning;
  • Roles required for any business to maintain minimum basic operations, which includes security, and payroll; and
  • Law and safety, and essential government functions will continue under the recommended action.

Businesses with questions about the order are asked to contact the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation.

COVID-19 in Wisconsin

There were 457 positive cases of COVID-19 and five associated deaths in Wisconsin as of March 24, according to the state health department. Two new cases in Pierce County were announced Sunday.

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