BREAKING: Gov. Evers Issues ‘Safer at Home’ Order – Here’s What You Need to Know [UPDATED]

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers

We finally have details about Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers’ “safer at home” order, which was first mentioned (but not fleshed out) on Monday, when Evers said nonessential businesses should be closed to stem the tide of the coronavirus epidemic. 

According to The Associated Press, state officials were motivated to act by dire estimates about the number of deaths that could occur if more restrictive measures weren’t taken. 

“Without changes to limit the spread of COVID-19, models show that up to 1,000 people in the state could die and more than 22,000 would contract the virus by April 8, exceeding the number of hospital beds in the state, said state Department of Health Services Secretary Andrea Palm,” The Associated Press reported.

As of Tuesday afternoon, March 24, five people had died as a result of the virus, while 457 had tested positive, health officials said.

At 10:32am Tuesday, Evers’ office released the following announcement, which details the order, which will be in effect between 8am Wednesday, March 25, and 8am Friday, April 24.

Here are some important details:

  • Whenever possible, stay home.
  • You don’t need official permission to leave your home; however, you are asked to comply with the order to see when it is permissible to leave.
  • Likewise, businesses that are deemed essential don’t need documentation to continue doing work that complies with the order.
  • You can leave your home for purposes such as getting medicine, seeing a doctor, getting food and supplies, caring for a family member, or caring for vulnerable people like older adults, children, or those with disabilities.
  • You're welcome to go outdoors and take part in outdoor activities like walking, hiking, running, etc., as long as you maintain a six-foot social distance. (Playgrounds are closed, however, and don't take part in team or contact sports.)
  • The list of essential businesses (outlined in the press release below as well as in the full order) includes health care operations, pharmacies, food-related businesses (including grocery stores, convenience stores, and businesses that transport food), gas stations and vehicle repair shops, banks, hardware stores, law and safety operations, media outlets, and more. (Here's the full text of the order.)
  • Wondering if your business is considered essential or non-essential? The Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce notes that pages 9-14 of the order provide detailed definitions of “Essential Businesses and Operations.” Read through this long list first to see if your business is addressed. There’s a WEDC website linked at the end of the list if you’re not sure. There’s also a reference in the order to guidance from the U.S. Deptartment of Homeland Security among the definitions. Click here to read the CISA guidance for those to whom this might apply.
  • Local law enforcement agencies, including sheriffs, have the power to enforce the order, and violators can be fined up to $250 or imprisoned for up to 30 days (or both).


Just like everyone else in Wisconsin, we'll be digesting this as the day progresses, and you can expect frequent updates to this post. Until then, check out the full announcement: 

Gov. Evers Directs DHS to Issue Safer at Home Order

MADISON — Gov. Tony Evers today directed Department of Health Services (DHS) Secretary-designee Andrea Palm to issue a Safer at Home order that prohibits all nonessential travel, with some exceptions as clarified and defined in the order. The order is available here.

The order is effective at 8 am on Weds., March 25, 2020 and will remain in effect until 8 am Fri., April 24, 2020, or until a superseding order is issued.

“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,” said Gov. Evers. “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 healthcare workers have the opportunity to do their important work. Let’s all do our part and work together.”

Individuals do not need special permission to leave their homes, but they must comply with this order as to when it is permissible to leave home. Similarly, if a business is an Essential Business or Operation as defined in this order, it does not need documentation or certification to continue its work that is done in compliance with this order.

Under this order, Wisconsin residents are able to:

  • 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.

Businesses allowed to operate under the Safer at Home order include, but are not limited to:

  • 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.

The order contains detailed information regarding the exemptions provided to certain businesses. If a business is unsure about whether or not they are exempted from this order, please contact the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation here.

The public should follow simple steps to prevent illness and avoid exposure to this virus including:

  • 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.

This is a rapidly evolving situation and we encourage you and the public to frequently monitor the DHS website for updates, and to follow @DHSWI on Facebook and Twitter, or dhs.wi on Instagram. Additional information can be found on the CDC website.