St. Croix and Pierce counties released recommendations Friday, May 15, to address the continued threat of COVID-19 following the Wisconsin Supreme Court decision to overturn Gov. Tony Evers administration's Safer at Home order.
The recommendations are not a local order to replace Safer at Home. St. Croix County Health Officer Kelli Engen said the court's decision created questions on the legality of local orders, so the county is sticking with recommendations for now.
Everyone has a role in fighting the spread of the disease, Engen said.
“The Health Advisory issued today, recognizes that we can’t go back to normal daily living,” St. Croix County Health Officer Kelli Engen said. “St. Croix County empathizes with everyone who has been impacted by COVID-19.”
Recommendations for citizens from both counties include:
No mass gatherings of more than 10 people, planned or otherwise.
Avoid unnecessary travel outside of communities.
Maintain a distance of 6 feet between other people.
Cover coughs or sneezes, clean high-touch surfaces, wash hands and avoid shaking hands.
Follow Department of Health Services and CDC guidelines.
St. Croix County Sheriff Scott Knudson said in a news release the county recognizes businesses have a need to reopen in a safe and responsible way.
Businesses were advised by both counties to follow Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation guidelines, which include plans for protecting and educating employees, maintaining social distancing, screening for temperatures and symptoms, sanitizing and more.
Both counties are specifically asking businesses to comply with physical distancing, cleaning and disinfection, and to comply with public health investigations relating to confirmed or suspected COVID-19 cases.
St. Croix County advises businesses to:
Post signage letting customers know about any policy changes and instruct them to stay home if experiencing symptoms.
Provide training to staff on how to protect themselves.
Screen and prevent workers from entering the workplace if they display COVID-19 symptoms.
Screen and prevent customers, visitors and guests from entering if they display respiratory symptoms.
St. Croix County includes similar recommendations for faith communities, as well as advising against passing collection plates, using communal items such as communion cups and holy water and physical contact for offering of peace.
Pierce County further advises businesses to:
Have policies to monitor staff for COVID-19 symptoms.
Support working from home, when possible.
Encourage handwashing, masks and physical distancing.
Prohibit mass gathering on premises.
Cease door-to-door operations.
Cities can make their own restrictions, Hudson City Attorney Catherine Munkittrick said, but it is questionable if those restrictions could be similar to what was in the state order.
“The best we can say at this point is it’s unclear,” Munkittrick said.
Hudson Mayor Rich O’Connor said everybody in the community will need to respect others, including those who continue to social distance and wear masks, and those who don’t. The Hudson council met Friday, May 15, for a special meeting in response to the state Supreme Court's decision.
“Respect is going to be the most important thing going forward,” O’Connor said.
Council member Paul Deziel questioned how the guidelines from the county could be enforced. City Administrator Aaron Reeves said all the city can do is promote the guidelines.
Council member Randy Morrissette II said the city needs to have faith in the business community to follow the guidelines.
Council member Jim Webber said he knows of two businesses that have already violated the guidelines, adding the city needs to reach out to businesses and ask them to adhere to the guidelines.
River Falls is working on an amended COVID-19 response plan, Mayor Dan Toland said. An update will be provided in his video address Tuesday, May 19.
The plan for River Falls city services and facilities remains the same, Toland said.
New Richmond City Council held a special meeting Thursday, May 14, before the county guidelines were issued.
Mayor Fred Horne said he spoke to bars Thursday following the court's decision and asked them to continue to follow social distancing. Every one he talked to was receptive to it, he said.
City staff will be available to review opening plans and public health issues for businesses prior to reopening, though it is not mandatory.