Turning the dial: Some retail stores, drive-in theaters can open with limits under new order

MADISON, Wis. — Some retail stores will be allowed to open in the latest order from Gov. Tony Evers and the state’s Department of Health Services.

Gov. Tony Evers announced Monday that the state would be “allowing more opportunities for Wisconsin businesses to get back to work in a safe and responsible way” by allowing nearly all nonessential businesses to reopen, as long as they only serve five customers or fewer at a time.

“This is another disciplined turn of the dial that will allow Wisconsin’s business owners to safely get back to work and Wisconsin consumers to support their favorite local spots,” Evers said in a news release.

Emergency Order 36, signed Monday by Wisconsin Department of Health Services Secretary-designee Andrea Palm, allows standalone or strip-mall based retail stores to offer in-person shopping for up to five customers at a time while maintaining required social distancing practices. It takes effect immediately.

The new order Monday also allows drive-in theaters to operate with some restrictions.

All businesses must continue to follow all safety precautions and guidelines as outlined in the Safer at Home order, officials said.

“Both customers and workers need to be confident in their safety, so we need everyone to be diligent in following best safety practices so we can continue to move our state forward while keeping our neighbors, families, and communities safe and healthy,” Evers said.

Evers has explained the reopening of the state as turning a dial to gradually have more movement and interaction between Wisconsinites. The new order builds on the Safer at Home order and the last turn of the dial through Emergency Order 34, which allowed golf courses to operate, aesthetic and optional lawn and construction services provided by a single employee, curbside pick-up for public libraries and every business to provide deliveries, mailings, and curbside pick-up and drop-off services.

The extended Safer at Home order is set to end May 26.

Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos was critical of the order in a statement Monday. He called for all businesses statewide to be opened.

“Another day and another confusing emergency order,” Vos said. “This shutdown has put half a million people out of work. It’s time to get everyone back to work in every part of the state.”