Evers extends ‘Safer at Home’ order until late May

MADISON, Wis. — Gov. Tony Evers is extending the  stay-at-home order for about a month longer than his initial order.

Evers extended Wisconsin’s Safer at Home order that was originally slated to expire next week. The extension issued Thursday keeps non-essential businesses closed until May 26 to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Evers is speaking during a news conference Thursday.

“Each and every one of us had to do our part to make sure that our healthcare workers and system didn’t become overwhelmed by an influx of cases. A few weeks ago, we had a pretty grim outlook of what COVID-19 could mean for our state,” Evers said. “Safer at Home is working, folks, and it’s because all of you that we are where we are today. We’ve helped flatten the curve, which has resulted in fewer cases and hospitalizations. And folks, we’ve helped save lives together.”

Evers said the bottom line is that the state isn’t out of the clear yet from coronavirus, and extending the order was needed to control the spread.

“We cannot think of this like switching a light switch. It is more like turning a dial. The more disciplined we are now the faster we can turn” it to come out of the shutdown, Evers said.

DHS Secretary-designee Andrea Palm said that in the first three weeks of the Safer at Home order, between 300 and 1,400 lives were saved, according to models.

“Safer at Home is working. By working together as a state and following social distance guidelines, we have already saved lives,” Palm said.

In a statement from Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway, she thanked Evers “for taking this strong stance to continue to protect public health at this critical time when Wisconsin is still witnessing significant levels of illness and death from COVID-19.”

“What is clear from the science is that we will have to continue to take precautions and make adjustments to the way we go about our daily lives until a vaccine is widely available,” Rhodes-Conway said in the statement. “Even if the summer results in a decrease in the levels of illness, the CDC is predicting that a vaccine will not be available for a year or more. Future waves of illness will happen if we do not continue to take a science and evidence based response to this illness.”

Schools will remain closed for the remainder of the academic year.

News of the extension comes amid growing criticism from conservatives who are pushing Evers, and governors in other states, to loosen restrictions to more quickly reopen states. Opponents of the order planned a rally at the state Capitol on April 24, the end date of the original order.

Evers did make some adjustments, including allowing golf courses to reopen. He’s also allowing nonessential businesses to make deliveries and have curbside pickup available. That includes arts and crafts stores making material available to produce face masks and other personal protective equipment.

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Businesses and activities ramping up service and operations:

  • Public libraries: Public libraries may now provide curb-side pick-up of books and other library materials.
  • Golf Courses: Golf courses may open again, with restrictions including scheduling and paying for tee times online or by phone only. Clubhouses and pro shops must remain closed.
  • Non-essential Businesses: Non-essential businesses will now be able to do more things as Minimum Basic Operations, including deliveries, mailings, and curb-side pick-up. Non-essential businesses must notify workers of whether they are necessary for the Minimum Basic Operations.
  • Arts and Crafts Stores: Arts and craft stores may offer expanded curb-side pick-up of materials necessary to make face masks or other personal protective equipment (PPE).
  • Aesthetic or Optional Exterior Work: Aesthetic or optional exterior law care or construction is now allowed under the extended order, so long as it can be done by one person.

Safe Business Practices:

  • Safe Business Practices for Essential Businesses and Operations: Essential Businesses and Operations must increase cleaning and disinfection practices, ensure that only necessary workers are present, and adopt policies to prevent workers exposed to COVID-19 or symptomatic workers from coming to work.
  • Safe Business Practices for Retailers that Essential Businesses and Operations: Retail stores that remain open to the public as Essential Businesses and Operations must limit the number of people in the store at one time, must provide proper spacing for people waiting to enter, and large stores must offer at least two hours per week of dedicated shopping time for vulnerable populations.
  • Supply Chain: Essential Businesses and Operations that are essential because they supply, manufacture, or distribute goods and services to other Essential Businesses and Operations can only continue operations that are necessary to those businesses they supply. All other operations must continue as Minimum Basic Operations.

Other changes include:

  • Schools: Public and private K-12 schools will remain closed for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year.
  • Local parks and open space: Local health officials may close public parks and open spaces if it becomes too difficult to ensure social distancing or the areas are being mistreated.
  • Travel: People are strongly encourage to stay close to home, not travel to second homes or cabins, and not to travel out-of-state if it is not necessary.
  • Tribal Nations: Tribal Nations are sovereign over their territory and can impose their own restrictions. Non-tribal members should be respectful of and avoid non-essential travel to Tribal territory. Local government must coordinate, collaborate, and share information with Tribal Nations.
  • Duration: The changes in this order go into effect on April 24, 2020. The order will remain in effect until 8 a.m. on May 26, 2020.

 

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