Evers' 'Safer-at-home' order to take effect Wednesday; administration releases essential businesses list

Published: Mar. 24, 2020 at 10:34 AM CDT
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Many businesses will stay open and are considered essential under Governor Evers’

signed Tuesday morning and taking effect Wednesday morning at 8 a.m. The order is effective until April 24 or until another order supersedes it, according to a press release from the Governor’s office.

Note: A non-comprehensive list of essential businesses and an FAQ is located at the bottom of this article.

In a phone interview with NewsChannel 7 on Tuesday morning, when asked what conditions needed to be in place to begin decreasing restrictions, Evers further added that a "flattening of the spike" of cases needed to occur.

"Instead of it going up, we need to see it flatten out," he told NewsChannel 7.

A broad scope of essential businesses are defined in the order, including many forms of manufacturing, construction, factories, and other industries that perform services deemed critical for essential functions. Restaurants will continue to be able to offer pick-up and delivery while in-house seating remains closed, and essential roles like health care, grocery, pharmacies, child care with restrictions, banks, and essential government roles like public safety will remain open.

What the order does do is prohibit gatherings of people outside of household members, with the exception of functions like weddings, funerals, essential activities, and caring for family members or vulnerable populations in different households. Outdoor activities are also allowed like walks and parks with social distancing restrictions, but contact sports, playgrounds, and most places of amusement with the exception of places like state parks will be closed under the order. The homeless are exempt, but are ‘strongly urged’ to find housing, and local governments are urged to find ways to shelter the homeless during the duration of the order as well.

Other trades are also included as critical, including plumbers, electricians, and laborers. Public transport remains open, although social distancing is strongly urged.

“The reason [COVID-19] continues to spread is people are not staying at home when they can,” Evers told NewsChannel 7. The step was “Not one that I wanted to take…I kinda fought against that all along…but I also said at the same time this issue is fluid and I am absolutely going to follow science and the folks in our public health world.”

On Friday, Evers told reporters he would not be considering a stay at home order in the manner that states like California and New York had adopted. He announced Monday morning that the ‘Safer at home’ order was coming, but did not provide details until Tuesday morning.

"We wanted to prepare people," Gov. Evers said. "It’s going to take people time to understand what’s essential, what’s not essential."

President Donald Trump has tweeted and told reporters that he is considering removing restrictions to restore the economy at the end of the current 15-day recommendations regarding social distancing and closures. “The cure is worse than the problem,” he told reporters on Tuesday. When asked whether Evers would follow any move to roll back regulations that President Trump might make at the end of March when the 15-day phase is completed, Evers indicated he would continue following recommendations from doctors, public health, and scientists.

“We will be following the science, and I hope to heck [President Trump] does too. That’s the bottom line,” he said.

In regards to the coming Spring elections on April 7 and May 12, Evers said he was continuing to reevaluate actions regarding voting; as of Tuesday afternoon, there is no indication the polls will not remain open. However, the administration is strongly urging people to request an absentee ballot and vote through the mail.

Is my business essential?

Here are businesses allowed to operate under the 'Safer at Home' order:

  • 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.

A comprehensive list of essential businesses can be found at

Critical infrastructure includes some types of manufacturing, construction and factories that support essential functions, according to the order. Other major box stores like Walmart and Target will also be able to stay open under the guidelines.

Specific businesses that have questions on whether or not they can stay open should first read

and then, if they still have questions, contact the

For businesses not included as essential, Gov. Evers says there will be an appeal process available.

What can I do while the order is in place?
  • Leave your home to purchase medicine, essential supplies like groceries
  • Activities essential to health and safety, like seeing your doctor
  • Caring for a family member in a different household, or other vulnerable people and dependents
  • Outdoor activity (walks, parks) while social distancing, but not contact sports, playgrounds, places of amusement What can't I do?
  • Meet anyone for gatherings outside of your household, outside of essential functions outlined above What's newly closed that wasn't already closed in previous orders?
  • Places of amusement like movie theaters, zoos, amusement parks
  • Gyms, salons, spas (many were already closed under previous orders) What is the fine for disregarding the order? 30 days imprisonment, a $250 fine, or both. This article will continue to be updated throughout the day.